Annalise Igyarto

MSU student Annalise Igyarto talks Friday in the Strand Union Building about her upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., to volunteer with the ONE Campaign and lobby for full congressional funding of global vaccinations.

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Montana State University student Annalise Igyarto feels both excited and a bit scared about going to Washington, D.C., to ask Montana’s senators to support full funding of life-saving vaccines for poor children in Africa.

“It’s exhilarating to make this difference in the global community,” she said Friday, “but also a little scary to do something I haven’t done before.”

Igyarto, 21, a sophomore studying physics, said she cares about the issue because “1.5 million lives are lost every year because people don’t have access to vaccinations for preventable illnesses.”

And 600,000 of those who die are children, according to the ONE Campaign, a global anti-poverty organization co-founded by Bono, lead singer of U2.

Igyarto is one of two students from Montana chosen by the ONE Campaign. The other student is Elan Badminton of the University of Montana.

They will fly to Washington next week for a three-day summit that includes training with other ONE Campaign volunteers and visiting the U.S. Capitol to meet with senators.

They’ll ask congressional members to support full funding of Gavi, the Global Vaccine Alliance, which helps vaccinate millions of children each year, mainly in Africa.

According to the ONE Campaign, immunizations reach 86% of the world’s children, but still some 20 million kids missed out on life-saving vaccines against diseases like measles, diphtheria and tetanus, pneumonia and diarrhea.

There was good news this week that the Trump administration budget, while proposing to cut funding overall for world health organizations in half, included full funding of $1.1 billion over four years for Gavi.

But lobbying is still important, said Sean Simons, ONE Campaign spokesman. “In these crazy political times, nothing in Washington is guaranteed,” Simons wrote in an email.

Igyarto said she learned about the ONE Campaign last semester at the MSU Involvement Fair. It appealed to her because it’s an international campaign, she said, and it’s a way to fight “extreme poverty.”

If children are vaccinated, they’re able to go to school, their parents are able to work, and it helps raise families out of terribly poverty, she said.

“I honestly believe everybody, regardless of where they’re born or raised, deserves a life free of preventable diseases,” Igyarto said.

Asked about those who argue the U.S. government should focus on helping Americans rather than people abroad, Igyarto said, “We’re privileged in a lot of ways here. We should use that privilege to help other people.”

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Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

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