Guest contributor Monica Graham is a communications officer with our Vaccine Access and Delivery Program.
Thanks to an innovative partnership between Microsoft employees and PATH, thousands of children in Laos no longer face the possibility of severe, lifelong brain injury or even death from Japanese encephalitis (JE). Earlier this month they were vaccinated against the disease—the single most effective method of prevention.
PATH and our partners have been working for more than a decade to identify and accelerate the delivery of an affordable JE vaccine with the power to protect millions of children. In Laos, they needed a way to get the vaccine from its manufacturer in China to the children in their villages. Microsoft and its employees stepped forward with a creative campaign that let employees who took part in a health screening designate a donation toward providing the vaccinations in Laos. Their support helped pay for transporting the vaccine.
Two weeks ago, I watched as the first children gathered for vaccinations at a primary school in Xiangkhouang Province, and followed along as the campaign moved from village to village and district to district. Here is some of what I saw:
On the first morning of the Japanese encephalitis vaccination campaign in Xiangkhouang Province, children gathered at the Sibounheuang primary school to get their shots. More than 500 children received protection from life-threatening infection at the campaign launch.
Orladee, a nurse at the Pek district health center in Xiangkhouang, spent her day administering vaccines to the schoolchildren.
In order to reach rural villages, the vaccine must be transported in cold storage boxes by motorbike.
Wa Meng, a father who lost his eldest son to Japanese encephalitis, made sure the rest of his family received protection when the vaccination campaign came to his village of Khonkandone.