A story from Ghana: How Congress’ help saves children’s lives

The events that led to this simultaneous launch of both vaccines were not easy. The work by our top health officials all the way to community health workers was astounding to watch. It is incredibly difficult to roll out one new vaccine, much less two.

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Ghana has a population about 25 million people who live in an area the size of the state of Oregon, with multiple languages and tribes. We have both dense urban communities and rural villages that are connected to the rest of the world by mobile phones and dirt paths.

With all these challenges, I am proud to say that we have done it. We have done it first and foremost because of the political commitment, the technical expertise, and the sheer willpower of Ghanaians.

Most importantly, we have had invaluable help from our key partners, such as the GAVI Alliance, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization. The GAVI Matching Fund produced a total contribution of £3 million, which included a £1.5 million contribution by JP Morgan.

Another essential partner, I am proud to say, has been the United States Government.

When people ask about Ghana’s relationship with the United States, I tell them about this recent vaccination campaign because of the generous contributions from the American people.

The United States is an essential contributor to making sure millions of children receive the protection they need from vaccines. The American Government has made a generous three-year pledge to GAVI, despite the country’s economic hard times.

While that may seem like an abstract notion to Americans and to members of Congress, I wish it weren’t so. I wish, in fact, that many Americans and members of Congress could now be in Ghana to watch the outcome of this incredible good deed, the miracle of this vaccination campaign.

It is a miracle because this effort by Ghanaians and by our friends is saving the lives of children all around me now.

Tonight, at 6.30pm at our Embassy in Washington D.C., we will celebrate this accomplishment. We will host a panel of experts which will be moderated by VOA journalist Linord Moudou, who attended the launch of both vaccines in Ghana this week. Please come and learn more about why this was such an important moment for all of us-both Ghanaians and Americans.

Daniel Ohene Agyekum has been Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States of America since September 2009.