Home » Legacy » A donkey delivery medicine is saving lives in Mali

Jenny Kronbergs

Head of Gifts in Wills, Unicef UK

Inside one man’s mission to get life-saving vaccines to children in Mali – a country in West Africa where there is only one doctor for every 18,000 people.

Today, baby Mariam will get a vaccine. She is three months old. Her mother, Aissata, has seven children and sells milk for a living. They live in a remote rural village in Mopti, a region of Mali plagued by violence.

Mali’s vaccine crisis

In this region of Mali, only 37% of children are fully vaccinated, partly because it is a challenge for mothers like Aissata to get to a health clinic; in Mali most families live more than nine miles away from a health facility and transport is expensive.

Recent fighting in the region has also made things worse; to gain control of the situation the government has banned motorbike travel – the main way people get around – making it even harder to get to the doctors. As a result, in just one year the number of unvaccinated children here has quadrupled.

In Mali, measles outbreaks are devastatingly common and child mortality is high; every tenth child born in Mali will die before reaching their fifth birthday.

In Mali, measles outbreaks are devastatingly common and child mortality is high; every tenth child born in Mali will die before reaching their fifth birthday.

Donkey delivery is saving lives

29-year-old Mamadou is a health worker in Mopti. Once a month, he makes the difficult journey out to villages like Aissata’s, to deliver vaccines to children in danger.

As he can no longer use a motorbike, he makes the journey on a wooden cart pulled by a donkey. Vaccinators like Mamadou travel for up to eight hours to reach families most in need, often in difficult and dangerous conditions.

Vaccines must be kept at a constant temperature if they are to remain effective – if they become too hot or too cold at any moment before they are injected, they become useless.

At the health centre vaccines are stored in a solar powered fridge and Mamadou transports them in a portable cool box; both vital pieces of equipment were donated by Unicef.

Protecting every child from danger

When Mamadou reaches the remote Kankelena village where families are waiting for him with their children, people are very happy to see him. “It’s great to have a vaccinator taking care of the children here, despite the security risks,” the village chief says.

Fatoumata, another mother in Mali, had her twin daughters vaccinated thanks to a campaign led by Unicef. In her area, 90% of babies are now vaccinated.

Fatoumata says: “Do you see my children? All five of them, they never get sick. That’s because of the vaccines and the vaccination programme. I hope they remain healthy. I want them to go to school.”

Together we can end deadly disease

Amazingly, Unicef provides vaccines to almost half the world’s children. From Mongolia to Mozambique, everyday thousands of vaccine heroes like Mamadou work hard to make deadly diseases a thing of the past – going above and beyond to deliver life-saving vaccines to remote communities across the world. 

Leaving a gift in your will could help Unicef deliver vaccines to more children like Mariam. Better vaccination coverage brings us one step closer to making deadly diseases a thing of the past. Smallpox has already been eradicated. Why not measles next?

Leave a lasting legacy in your will. Make deadly childhood diseases a thing of the past and protect children for generations to come. Search ‘Unicef Legacy’ today to find out more and request your free will-writing guide.  

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