Tesco is supporting the Pampers and UNICEF 1 pack = 1 vaccine campaign to protect babies in developing countries against newborn tetanus. In October, Tesco’s commercial director Sheila Gallagher and other Tesco staff visited Senegal to see UNICEF’s work in action.
My trip to Senegal
Last month I had the privilege of travelling to Senegal with Pampers and UNICEF to find out more about a scheme Tesco supports. The Pampers and UNICEF 1 pack = 1 vaccine campaign helps to provide maternal and newborn tetanus vaccines to mums in some of the world’s poorest countries. For each pack of specially marked Pampers sold in Tesco, we donate the cost of one vaccination (and, for a limited period of time, we donate the cost of three vaccines for each specially marked Pampers pack). Tesco is the largest retail supporter of this campaign and since 2006 our customers have helped to provide the equivalent of 65 million vaccines. That’s a huge figure and something we can all be really proud of.
My journey to meet those on the ground delivering this project gave me to the opportunity to see first-hand how our support is helping in the fight against maternal and newborn tetanus. I was inspired by their dedication, passion and energy and I learned that so much of what they do is about education. As is so often the case, knowledge and education are the most powerful weapons.
We visited a clinic and watched mums and their babies getting their vaccinations. I saw just how quickly the team provides help and support to mothers and babies who need it. I also got to see the incredible work that the teams do to provide outreach to people living in remote villages and ensure that mothers don’t overlook vaccinations. It’s easy to forget about them and the walk to the nearest clinic is often several miles. These teams are vital to the success of the project as a whole.
I also had the terribly sad experience of meeting a family who lost their child to newborn tetanus at just two weeks old. Tragically they couldn’t get to a clinic in time as they couldn’t afford to travel there. Now the mother helps to raise awareness so that other parents don’t have to experience the loss that she has. She’s a highly influential figure in her village and a health hut has been opened there.
On the second day of our trip I went to a larger clinic and met lots of mothers who were waiting to get themselves and their babies immunised. It was great to see so many there and the amount of support being offered. But once more, I had a heartbreaking conversation with a mother describing to me how she had lost her child to tetanus; the baby wasn’t even two weeks old. She had used traditional medicine for a week before realising that it was not helping. By the time she sought expert local medical help it was too late and there was nothing they could do. She has since gone on to have another child and is a really proactive member of her community, educating other mothers and helping them to seek medical advice and make sure they have their vaccinations.
Newborn tetanus claims the life of a child every nine minutes and it is still a major threat in over 30 countries. Projects like this one really are making a huge difference. Since the Pampers and UNICEF partnership began in 2006 it has helped to eliminate maternal and newborn tetanus in 10 countries. There is clearly more to do, but by all of us working together we really can achieve some amazing results. To all of you who have helped to support this scheme, thank you, it really has made a life-changing difference to families.