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Tracing Ewan McGregor’s Cold Chain vaccine journey

By Hannah Morris, UNICEF Australia Communications Intern

Previously known to me as the hopelessly romantic, endearingly naive Bohemian writer from Moulin Rouge, Ewan McGregor had me viewing him in a whole new light after watching Cold Chain Mission, a documentary shown on SBS last night.

As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, McGregor, by his own admission, loves an adventure and Cold Chain Mission invites us to join him on one to deliver vaccines, with UNICEF, to some of the more remote locations on earth.

The ‘cold chains’ McGregor travels are the worldwide network of supply routes for medical vaccines. They are named cold chains’ because it is imperative the vaccinations remain cold for the duration of their journey otherwise they lose their potency and life-saving advantage.

In this two part documentary McGregor travels to India, Nepal and Congo on his mission to provide vaccines to as many children as possible. What shocked me most was the sheer physical and logistical challenge the UNICEF team faced to reach these isolated communities.

In Nepal, vaccinators trek for two days to reach a remote settlement high in the Himalayas and in the Congo they travel into the jungle by helicopter and then down river tributaries in dug-out canoes to reach a secluded Pygmy tribe. The awe I felt in witnessing communities living and thriving in these most beautiful and untouched parts of the world was offset by the realisation these people were still suffering from diseases and ailments that had been all but eradicated elsewhere. McGregor puts it best when he says: “If it wasn’t for us coming all this way to vaccinate these children… then nobody would”.

What hammers the importance of the mission this documentary covers is the fact polio, one of the diseases McGregor and the team are vaccinating against, is a completely preventable disease. We have the tools at our disposal to eradicate polio from the world permanently. There are only three countries left where polio is endemic, meaning the world could be polio free in our lifetime. All that is needed is more committed people like McGregor and the UNICEF teams willing to go that extra mile (or 10, or 10,000) to reach these remote children.

If there is one thing Cold Chain Mission demonstrates it’s that if these children living in remote areas of the world can be reached and vaccinated, there is no reason why we can’t back the global movement to ensure all children are vaccinated. With generosity, perseverance and the will to act, we can truly make history and be the generation that ends polio for good.

To catch up on the first part of Cold Chain Mission, view it on SBS On Demand, or tune in to SBS One for part two of Cold Chain Mission on Wednesday, March 6 at 8.30pm.

Hannah-Morris.jpg About Hannah Morris

Hannah Morris is UNICEF Australia’s current communications intern. Hannah studied a Bachelor of International and Global Studies at the University of Sydney and is a board director of the University of Sydney Union.
Join in the conversation with Hannah on Twitter @hannah_soonmei

Permalink | Posted 28/02/13 | Posted in Immunisation

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