Der Segen des Impfens

KAPSTADT – Eine Welt, in der unsere Kinder und ihre Kinder aufwachsen, ohne von Polio oder anderen vermeidbaren Krankheiten bedroht zu werden, ist ein Traum, den wir alle teilen. Aber im Gegensatz zu den meisten anderen Träumen ist dieser erreichbar. In meinem Leben hatte ich das Glück, den außerordentlichen Einfluss zu erleben, den Impfungen auf den Schutz von Kindern vor Krankheit und Tod haben – besonders in den Entwicklungsländern.

Impfungen hatten für mich immer eine besondere Bedeutung. Als kleines Kind in Südafrika wäre ich beinahe an Polio gestorben. Damals – in den frühen 1930ern – gab es gegen diese hochansteckende Krankheit keinen Impfstoff. Aus gutem Grund hatten Eltern in aller Welt Angst, dass der Poliovirus – wie eine Plage – vor ihrer Tür stehen, ein Kind befallen und innerhalb von Stunden oder Tagen irreversible Lähmungen oder, schlimmer noch, den Tod verursachen konnte.

Die Ärzte erklärten meinen Eltern, sie könnten nicht mehr viel für mich tun, also bereitete mein Vater meine Beerdigung vor. Glücklicherweise wurde ich wieder gesund, und nur meine rechte Hand blieb geschädigt. Ich habe ein wunderbares Leben gelebt, aber die Lähmung meiner Hand erinnert mich täglich daran, warum wir dringend Polio ausrotten und sicherstellen müssen, dass alle Kinder Zugriff auf die nötigen Impfungen haben.

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