“We will make this world a safer place to live for our children,” declares Council Chairperson Jono Koesmo, confident in the success of Lions’ efforts to protect the children of Indonesia from measles and rubella.
Both the measles and rubella viruses are prevalent in Indonesia, and thousands of cases are reported annually. Measles is a potentially life-threatening virus that can leave its survivors with brain damage, deaf and blind. Rubella can cause miscarriages and birth defects.
Of course, Lions cannot stand by and watch as thousands of children are diagnosed with these diseases each year. With funding from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), Lions of Multiple District 307 in Indonesia have joined the Indonesian government and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in a measles and rubella (MR) immunization campaign.
During this two-year campaign, the goal is to immunize at least 95 percent, or around 70 million Indonesian children against measles and rubella. After the campaign, the Indonesian government will replace the measles vaccine with the combined MR vaccine in the country’s routine immunization system. The government is hoping to eliminate measles and rubella from Indonesia by the year 2020.
We will make this world a safer place for our children.
In order to accomplish this monumental goal, the campaign is being conducted in two phases. The first phase took place in Java Island’s six provinces during August and September. All schools conducted vaccination days in which children between the ages of 6 and 15 years received the vaccine. The campaign extended to local clinics, hospitals and community centers to reach children between the ages of 9 months and 6 years who were not yet in school. The second phase of the campaign will take place in 2018 and will bring vaccinations to children in the remaining 28 provinces outside of Java Island.
Koesmo, who is very involved with the MR campaign, has described some of the challenges local Lions face in their efforts to raise awareness and encourage participation. “[It] surprised me [that] so far there are so many myths and wrong information [about vaccinations] given to some schools and parents.” In order to advocate for the life-saving MR vaccinations, Koesmo says Lions are reaching schools and parents through social media, websites, radio, seminars and other types of ads. Lions are also visiting schools, religious leaders and local governments.
The MR vaccine protects children from the potentially life-altering and deadly infections that are widely affecting Indonesia. LCIF and Lions will continue to work together to ensure that every child has the opportunity to receive a MR vaccination.