It’s not often in politics we have the privilege of being able to witness the immediate impact of policy decisions we make in this place.
This is especially so when this involves health and foreign aid, where policy decision often work to a very long term plan.
So I was delighted to travel to Laos to be able to observe how the decisions we took in Government to fund the work of the Gavi Alliance are making a very real difference to the lives of the children of Laos.
Both Labor and Liberal governments have recognised the power of this superb initiative to bring together private donors, UN agencies, governments and vaccine manufacturers to achieve a dramatic improvement in the health of children in some of the world’s poorest countries.
So often in health we deal with the aftermath – the hospitalisation and the medicines for the illnesses and injuries when it’s too late to affect the course of a person’s life, and the potential they may have had were it not for the start they had.
Which is why immunisation is such a fantastic investment.
It’s an investment in a lifetime of better health outcomes, a lifetime free of diseases which can have such disastrous consequences, but which can so easily be prevented.
This is especially so in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, which has had some of the worst health indicators in Asia despite a gradual improvement over the decades.
Infant mortality has fallen, but is still much too high, especially given most child deaths are due to common vaccine preventable and treatable conditions.
Not so long ago, it might have taken decades to bridge this gap. Now, due to the great work of the Gavi Alliance, and donations from countries like Australia, the children of Laos, and other developing countries are being given a much better chance at a life whose potential is not cut short by the lack of a cheap vaccination.
It was a privilege to be able to see first-hand the very real impact Australia’s aid programmes are having in improving the chances in life for so many children.
And this is just one small example of what is a truly epic ambition to vaccinate hundreds of millions of children and save millions of lives.
There can be no greater gift of one nation to another, than the health of its children
I’m proud Australia has been able to contribute in a significant way to such a magnificent goal and privileged to have been able to travel to Laos to see first hand how much of a difference that contribution has made.