In regard to the recent coronavirus outbreak, fear hit our own community after a suspected case at a local Kansas hospital. With no vaccine currently to treat this disease, the death toll has surpassed 1,000 people worldwide, yet, nearly 15,000 children are dying each day of vaccine-preventable diseases.

To prevent epidemics similar to the coronavirus, an unprecedented political commitment was made 30 years ago to provide children with access to life-saving vaccinations. The United States’ funding of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has allowed the world to cut child deaths in half, from 12.6 million in 1990 to 5.3 million in 2018. There is still an enormous gap in funding with more than 15 million children annually in low-income countries being deprived of the most basic life-saving vaccines.

Congress has always committed to fund Gavi with $290 million from the FY18 to FY20 and with this constant ongoing support for FY21, we can help Gavi immunize an additional 300 million children and save at least 7-8 million lives in the poorest countries. This is why I urge Sens. Roberts and Moran to show leadership by requesting SFOPS to commit to $290 million for Gavi in their FY21 budget request.

Melissa Bryan, Topeka