Thursday, 1 October 2009

Pampers, blogs and saving lives

Why do you blog? I suppose everyone's been asked this kind of question. What got you started? What do you hope to achieve? What keeps you going?
In my case the answer's simple: I was giving up full-time (paid) employment and I wanted to record what was going to be a big change in our lives. I also wanted to keep distant relatives (in Australia, and all over the UK) up-to-date with Charlie's progress and to keep a different sort of diary. I certainly never thought I'd be meeting celebrities, representatives of UNICEF, Pampers, fellow-bloggers and a host of others. And I never in a thousand years dreamt that my aimless ramblings might help to do some good for someone, somewhere.
But that's what Pampers and UNICEF think, which is why they invited a group of parent bloggers to the press launch of this year's 'Gift of Life' campaign. I'm sure you've heard of it. It's been going since 2006. Basically, buy a special pack of Pampers nappies (diapers) or wipes between now and the end of December (or click one click:one vaccine) and Pampers pay for one dose of anti-tetanus serum. In the past 3 years they've paid for over 200 million doses, making it a real possibility that - with continued support - the 'silent killer' lockjaw could be consigned to history by 2012.
I must confess I'm not always 'on message' when it comes to multi-nationals and their well-publicised largesse. Each dose of vaccine costs a mere sixpence, which is hardly going to make a dent in Proctor and Gamble's balance-sheet. But what persuaded me about the Pampers/UNICEF campaign was it's simplicity. By doing something many of us do anyway (buying wipes and nappies) UNICEF can help another 100 million families avoid unnecessary pain and suffering.
I remember thinking lockjaw was some kind of joke. My mum used to warn us when playing in the garden that we'd catch 'lock-jaw' if we weren't more careful. But tetanus isn't funny. In Angola, for example, it is still one of the major causes of neo-natal mortality. It kills - quickly, cruelly and painfully - far too many mothers and babies in the developing world each year. And yet it's oh so easy to prevent.
But there's so much more to the campaign than merely doling out a shot of tetanus vaccine. There's the education and support that UNICEF provides, and the fact that the 'Gift of Life' campaign is often a gateway to other vital areas of healthcare. The job of the medical teams is never easy. There is superstition and mistrust to overcome. There are the trusted local health workers whose support has to be won. There are many other obstacles to avoid. Buying special packs of Pampers wipes and nappies is an easy thing. And it's something we can all do.
Actress and mother-of-three Natascha McElhone, ambassador for the campaign, went recently to Angola to see the work for herself. This short film was made on that trip. If you want to read more about the UNICEF campaign you can't do better than the posts my fellow-bloggers Rosie Scribble, HotCrossMum, New Mummy and CafeBebe have put up today. And if you've nappies and wipes to buy in the next three months, why not buy Pampers for a change? Remember... one special pack = one more vaccine!
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