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Kiwi Sporting Icons Team Up to Help Fight Deadly Illness

(PR.co.nz) Two of New Zealand’s most revered sporting icons, Irene van Dyk and Dame Susan Devoy, have teamed up in a campaign to help battle the biggest killer of children under five in the third world – pneumonia.

The Vicks Road to Relief campaign in conjunction with UNICEF raises funds to immunise children against measles. Pneumonia is a serious and common complication of measles, occurring as a result of infection and resulting in an inflammation of the lung tissue.

According to latest UNICEF figures, pneumonia kills almost two million children in developing countries every year.[i] It kills more children than any other illness, including AIDS, malaria and measles combined[ii].

Now two of New Zealand’s most famous sporting mums are lending their support to the campaign to ensure more children are protected from the deadly disease.

Silver Fern and mother of one, Irene van Dyk says parents want to do the right thing by their children and that includes getting them access to the best medical attention possible.

“We are blessed in this country to be able to have access to quality medical services any time of the day or night. Some children and their families aren’t as fortunate. This campaign is an incredible way for Kiwi families to help prevent children another world away from illness, death and despair,” she says.

“In South Africa I have witnessed first-hand the devastating effect that poverty has on families, with children often not having access to even the most basic healthcare. I am honoured to be a part of this inspirational campaign.”

Every time a specially marked Vicks Road to Relief product is purchased between now and August, Vicks will pay for one child in a developing country to be immunised against measles, to help in the fight against pneumonia.

Mother to four boys and legendary squash player Dame Susan Devoy says years spent travelling the world with her sport opened her eyes to the hardship suffered by millions of children in underdeveloped nations.

“Many children do not even have the basic necessities like food and shelter, let alone access to immunisations. As Kiwis we are incredibly fortunate to have the access to medical services that we do, which ensures our children can grow up healthy, happy and protected.”

“Kiwi parents really need to get behind this great initiative and show their support for children who are not as lucky as our own. The fact that all funds raised are donated to UNICEF ensures that the measles vaccines are administered in the regions where they are most desperately needed,” says Dame Susan.

Dame Susan, who came on board last year as an ambassador, is proud of the campaign’s record to date. In 2010 Kiwi and Australian families managed to secure 2.3 million immunisations for children in Bangladesh, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea – just by purchasing Vicks, she says.

The Executive Director of UNICEF NZ, Dennis McKinlay, says pneumonia is the “forgotten killer” of children and despite claiming the lives of millions of children, it receives little attention.

McKinlay says immunisation is the difference between life and death in developing countries and more needs to be done to stop the “lethal” spread of pneumonia.

“This year funds donated by Kiwis and Australians will go towards immunising another two million children in Laos and Somalia. We really hope that families once again get on board with this initiative and help give these children access to the basic medical attention we have at our fingertips every day,” he says.

For more information about the countries that will benefit from New Zealanders’ support this winter, visit www.vicksroadtorelief.com.

1Pneumonia: The Forgotten Killer of Children, UNICEF/WHO, 2006

2Global Action Plan for Prevention & Cure of Pneumonia (GAPP), WHO/UNICEF, 2009

Media Release 31 May 2011.

 



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