Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Batting for Immunization

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Batting for Immunization

Article excerpt

ONE DAY LAST AUGUST, over sixty people gathered for the official opening of the Sammy Sosa Children's Medical Center for Preventive Medicine, in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. The clinic was launched amid great expectations that it will become a model public-private partnership to improve health conditions in a town famous for producing Major League baseball players.

That same day, in Chicago's Wrigley Field, the Cub superstar told a half-dozen reporters standing around his locker about the Sammy Sosa Foundation's plans to administer free immunization packages to 100,000 children a year. The foundation is collaborating with the Dominican government and U.S. government agencies--the Agency for International Development and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)--to establish several other clinics in this Caribbean island nation.

"The foundation is going to save a lot of children's lives," Sosa said. The immunization program will include existing vaccines to prevent polio, tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and measles, as well as newer, more expensive vaccines to prevent meningitis, pneumonia, and hepatitis.

The program benefits from a recent groundbreaking study that will make vaccinations against Hib, or Haemophilus influenza type B--a leading cause of meningitis and pneumonia--more widely accessible. Hib is a leading killer of children in developing countries, yet the cost of the vaccine has hindered widespread distribution.

In 1996, U. …

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