World Health Day is celebrated every year on April 7th, as the founding day of the World Health Organization. On this day, and every day in between, Esperança focuses on improving the lives of men, women, and children who fall through the cracks of modern-day healthcare. Esperança was established on the principal of preventing disease at the source, dating back to 1970, when Founder Father Luke Tupper was among the first to begin distributing the Polio vaccine in Brazil. He believed that on-time vaccination throughout childhood is essential because it helps provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.
Immunizations protect the world’s most vulnerable populations, those that Esperança serves with health, hope, and healing around the globe. From 1996 to 2010, Phoenix Program Director, Maria Valenzuela coordinated immunization fairs in Title I school districts on behalf of Esperança. She reminisces, “The best part was hearing those kids cry as they were being vaccinated. It was music to my ears because I knew their chances of staying healthy against an outbreak had just increased substantially.” The families that Esperança serves in Phoenix do not have the funds for a hospital visit should their child become infected. The blow comes especially hard when a detrimental outbreak can be easily prevented by vaccination. To improve the overall health of the community, Esperança refers program participants in our health classes to free/low-cost clinics and provides education on role individuals play in preventing the spread of disease.
Internationally, immunizations are equally important. Thankfully, the countries Esperança serves have robust child immunization programs resulting in high rates of immunization. However, the importance of immunization does not end at childhood. In Bolivia, women of reproductive age (15 and older) are dying of cervical cancer at an accelerated rate, 26.3 per 100 thousand women- the highest cervical cancer mortality rate in the Americas. More than half of all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is preventable with a vaccine. “This is why we are extremely proud of the work Esperanza Bolivia has been doing to not only raise awareness about cervical cancer, but also by training health professionals to improve detection and treatment of the disease,” explains International Program Director, Anna Ortiz.
For 49 years, Esperança has utilized vaccination education as a key element in reducing the risk of communicable diseases. We have a public health commitment to inform the communities we serve, protecting men, women, and children from life-threatening conditions.