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[box type=”default” size=”large”] Fil-Ams asked to sign petition seeking to lower cost of vaccines [/box]

WASHINGTON, D.C.  — The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) is calling on the Filipino-American community to support a global effort to save Filipino children from pneumonia, a leading cause of child mortality in the Philippines.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the Philippines is one of 15 countries that account for 75 percent of childhood pneumonia cases worldwide. Among children under five years old, pneumonia is the leading cause of mortality.

Spearheaded by NextDayBetter and Doctors Without Borders, the campaign is directed at two pharmaceutical companies – Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) – the only two producers of the life-saving pneumonia vaccine.

In Michigan, the campaign is led by the NaFFAA chapter headed by Chairperson Fe San Agustin.
“We need Pfizer and GSK to lower the pneumonia vaccine price in the Philippines, from $45 to $5 per child,” said Ryan Letada of NextDayBetter, a storytelling platform for creative Diaspora communities, which uses digital media and global speaker events to generate action and make an impact. “Many lives have been saved by this vaccine, but pneumonia still kills nearly 1 million children every year. The problem is urgent.”

NaFFAA’s Director of Health, Dr. Rommel Rivera of Philadelphia, PA, describes the situation as alarming and affirmed NaFFAA’s endorsement of this initiative. “We must take a stand as a community and use our influence to put pressure on these giant companies to make the vaccine affordable not only for children in the Philippines but also for all children all over the world,” he said. “The petition campaign ends next Tuesday so we’re calling on everyone to tell their family, friends and co-workers to sign now. It is critical that we make our voices heard.”

The link to the petition is www.nextdaybetter.com/afairshot. The goal is to collect 300,000 signatures by April 26. The petitions will be delivered to the offices of Pfizer and GSK the following day.

Rivera, who is president of the Philippine Medical Society of Greater Philadelphia (PMSGP), posted the online link to the petition several days ago. This was, in turn. shared by NaFFAA members nationwide.
Among those responding is Dr. Nanette Bernabe Quion of Arlington, VA, a pediatrician who is trained in public health. “This vaccine will save millions of lives,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “This vaccine has been proven to be safe and efficacious. The expensive cost of drug development should not be borne by poor and developing countries. It is very unfortunate that the Philippine DOH (Department of Health) has not included the pneumococcal vaccine in its expanded program of immunization when it is a proven and cost effective vaccine. We should have spent on this vaccine, which has a better safety profile, instead of the haphazard implementation of the dengue vaccine.”

In explaining NDB’s collaboration with Doctors Without Borders, Letada says that they “recognize that the Filipino Diaspora is a source of world-class healthcare professionals (nurses, doctors, physical therapy) and public health community organizers. Without Filipino healthcare professionals, the global healthcare system would implode – that’s how influential and critical we are as a community.”

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