Audrey Hepburn Discusses Vaccinating Children
CBS This Morning, October 8, 1991
HARRY SMITH, co-host:
It is 20 minutes until the hour. It is not often we can report good
news about the world's poorest children, but we can this morning. UNICEF
says it's reached its 1990 goal of having immunized 80 percent of these
kids against the worst childhood diseases. UNICEF health workers have trekked to
the most remote corners of the globe, and vaccinated kids against killer diseases
like measles, and UNICEF spokeswoman Audrey Hepburn is often there right
alongside them. And Audrey Hepburn joins us again this morning. Good morning.
AUDREY HEPBURN (UNICEF): Good morning, Larry. Thank you for having me again.
SMITH: We have talked so many times...
HEPBURN: So many times.
SMITH: ...in the past, and so often about so much bad news. Tell us the good
news this morning.
HEPBURN: Well, the good news is, you had just said, if you figure that in1974
less than 5 percent of the children in the developing world were immunized
against all the diseases, our children are protected against, and our goal was to
achieve in 1990 80 percent, and we have achieved that goal, and the story is
mind-boggling, because it's been the most monumental global mobilization. As you
said, UNICEF, but let us not forget all the extraordinary non-governmental
agencies that have raised money, the health workers in the field, everywhere all
over the world in the most isolated areas.
SMITH: Let's talk a little bit about the bear bones of this. What diseases
are we talking about, just to begin with?
HEPBURN: What we call the six killer diseases, which is tuberculosis, tetanus,
polio, which sometimes killed, but most often maimed the child for life, which is
so terrible, diphtheria--what am I forgetting?
SMITH: Measles we already talked about, right.
HEPBURN: Measles. Measles. Yes.
SMITH: Yeah. How difficult is it...
SMITH: Yeah. How difficult is it to get some of these vaccines to
these different parts of the world, because we think of our world and how easy it
is to communicate.
HEPBURN: It is almost impossible very often, because if you think that you
have to reach tiny hamlets up in the mountains, somewhere nowhere and yet get two
children, out in the desert of Africa. I once helped raise money to buy camels,
so that the vaccines could be transported across the huge distances of the Chad
where they have very few paved roads, and these vaccines were taken to these
nomadic tribes in solar energy boxes on the backs of camels, that's how we get it
SMITH: To keep the--keep the vaccines cool.
HEPBURN: Cool. Yes. And, of course, now our great ambition, and that, too,
will happen, is to raise enough money for the so-called supervaccine, which would
be a one-time vaccine against all the diseases, because now, of course, we've
achieved this with--but the big deal is to keep it going, to get the boosters.
SMITH: Yeah. 'Cause once...
HEPBURN: It would also make it cheaper, because basically a dollar's worth of
vaccines will vaccinate a child for life. It costs you $ 15 by the time of the
transportation and the refrigeration and so forth. In some countries, like
Botswana, who by the way reached their goal long before many other countries, a
country that is that poor, with-with people so scattered all over the country,
there, because of the distances and everything, it has cost them $ 35 per child.
And yet they did it with their own funds, and with our help, of course, but
the--wherever there is political commitment, wherever the governments are behind
the immunization campaign, they have always succeeded.
SMITH: Isn't that the great difficulty, and we talked about that in the last
half-hour with Dionne Warwick and Winnie Mandela. There's so much political
strife that even with the best of intentions, how do you get past all these
HEPBURN: People. People, commitment and, consequently,
political commitment. If you think that in Iran--they reached their goal also
very early during their--their war. So if a government wants to do it and
the people are mobilized--and in Botswana they did it with hundreds of thousands
of schoolchildren going from house to house, finding out if children had been
vaccinated, which had not been. If a country mobilizes, it can be done, and
finally for very little money.
SMITH: Nice to see you again, especially with this good news this morning.
HEPBURN: Can I tell you one more thing. When we speak of money,
Rotary International raised $ 3/4 billion for immunization, and that's
an extraordinary example of what people can do.