Many of us dream of bending it like Beckham. But star-quality soccer — football, to most of its 250 million players worldwide — is almost impossible without a healthy childhood.
That's why the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with an assist from the 2011 UEFA Champions League victors FC Barcelona, is teaming up to draw attention to the importance that vaccines hold for the world's future football stars. They're taking aim at polio in particular, seeing the potential to eradicate the disease completely.
With millions of fans worldwide, FC Barcelona has the ability to reach global masses. There is benefit for FC Barcelona as well. In partnering with the Gates Foundation, FC Barcelona is capturing the hearts of a whole new market and adding a social edge to their organization.
Polio is an infectious viral disease, spread from human to human. The disease attacks the central nervous system, resulting in severe paralysis and disability or death. But the vaccine, which costs about 13 cents a dose, protects children from this devastating disease and keeps them in school and in the workforce.
The effects of polio are not only damaging for the individual, but for poor families and countries as well. Caring for polio-stricken family members taps already limited resources, and polio victims struggle to work and effectively contribute monetarily. As children have had access to the vaccine “cases of this devastating disease have fallen by 99 percent in the past 20 years,” according to the Gates Foundation.
If the vaccination of at-risk children can continue, the potential for complete elimination is in sight. But to reach this goal, so that every child has the chance to score, the fight must continue. And as the Gates Foundation says, “polio anywhere is a threat everywhere."