Salma Hayek on Saving Babies & Moms
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting and interviewing Salma Hayek. Yes, the accomplished actress, producer, business woman, mother and now humanitarian.
Salma is the spokesperson for the UNICEF/ Pampers partnership of One Pack = One Vaccine that provides life-saving vaccines to help eliminate Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus (MNT).
Tetanus is almost always fatal and although it has been virtually eliminated in the developed world, it is still deadly in 46 countries and claims the life of one newborn every four minutes in those less industrialized nations.
The real tragedy here is that every (excruciatingly painful) death is completely preventable with a dose of a 7 cent vaccine given to a pregnant mom.
The way the UNICEF/ Pampers program works is for every specially-marked package of Pampers diapers or wipes purchased, one vaccine is donated to UNICEF to be administered to prevent MNT.
I asked Salma why this cause? Everyone wants a piece of her. Why not another childhood-related issue?
She was very passionate with her answer. It was all about the tangibility of this program and that because in 5 years there is a real possibility of tetanus being eliminated worldwide. Just last year, tetanus was officially wiped out in Bangladesh. According to UNICEF estimates, 386 million vaccines are needed to wipe out tetanus in the remaining 46 countries. Pampers alone has a global goal to provide funding for more than half of those needed tetanus vaccines over the next three years.
The other reason why Salma became involved was she had no idea that tetanus was still a problem. She was amazed (as was I and other moms when we first visited Pampers & UNICEF) to learn that tetanus was still causing horrible deaths of infants. She, like I, had thought it was eliminated worldwide. As such, Salma wants to bring national attention to this worldwide problem and let other moms know that through this program they can help moms in other parts of the world. The program facilities moms helping other moms. If you’re going to buy a disposable diaper and wipes anyway, why not choose a package that is specially-marked to help a mom and baby who may need a life-saving vaccine. Makes sense to me.
Lastly, which perhaps was the most surprising thing I learned (but then not really) from speaking to Salma was how difficult being the program spokesperson has been for her emotionally. At first blush, one would think hey! she’s a mom, of course she would be involved in causes dealing with children. But, as Salma explained it, it takes an extraordinary amount of courage for any mother to have to work in the field of childhood diseases. It is too much to bear. It gets you deeper, she said in her Spanish accent. That is an amazing insight, which of course you would not capture unless you were in the field, getting your hands dirty and being emotionally involved. As clearly Salma is.
Monday, I’ll be back sharing all the stuff I was able to pry out of her about her daughter, motherhood and shoes.
Photo by Getty