Lions, known worldwide for their dedication to preserving sight, have joined the Measles Initiative in the effort to end measles. Through a challenge grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lions Clubs International will mobilize US$15 million to support measles campaigns through the Measles Initiative. In addition, Lions Clubs members are helping to ensure vaccination campaigns are a success in their home countries.
The following reflection is from Sanjay Khetan, a Lion in Nepal who was actively involved in the first phase of Nepal’s measles-rubella campaign to vaccinate 10 million children.
I am truly motivated by the Measles Initiative, and by my organization’s involvement in helping save the lives of 10 million children of my country. Measles, being very common in Nepal, touches our hearts. Being part of this initiative has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It gives you immense satisfaction; your life has some cause.
Lions are supporting the measles-rubella vaccination campaign in Nepal both financially and as an active partner. During the planning phase, we organized awareness programs in various towns to prepare the community for vaccinations. Street banners, posters, pamphlets, radio and TV, informational clippings, vehicles with microphones and house-to-house invitations were used to share information about the campaign with the public.
Lions are working on the ground in all three phases of the campaign, with each club helping in one ward pre-selected in its municipality. We are actively working with people who live in slums and undeveloped communities, and those who have misgivings about vaccination. Our aim is to not leave a single child unvaccinated to eliminate measles and rubella from Nepal.
On launch day for the first phase, Lions were excited and ready to motivate people to bring their children to vaccination centers. Over 150 Lions from 14 local Lions clubs were present in their Lions vests and hats, which all vaccinators for the campaign received as well. After that first round of vaccinations was completed, we found out vaccination targets weren’t achieved in one district. Forty-five of the underperforming centers were selected, and a team of partners, including at least one Lion member on each team, went into the community to convince them of the benefits of vaccination and to meet with leaders in the area. On the second round vaccination day, Lions again went to the localities around these less performing centers to bring them to centers for vaccination. It worked well.
Our involvement in the measles cause is the biggest initiative by Lions in Nepal. It will have a long-lasting impact on our organization, and on our members. Doing something with so much of impact, and working hand-in-hand with the government, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners of the Measles Initiative is a great opportunity. We have many things to learn from each one of them.