BLACKSBURG, Va. – 1.5 million people worldwide lose their lives to vaccine-preventable diseases every year, according to global vaccine alliance Gavi, and now a Virginia Tech student is fighting to change that.
"We are the future, right? We know what we want and we are going to do everything in our power to make it happen," said Kush Pandit, a junior at Virginia Tech.
Pandit wants a world where all children have a better chance at a future.
"I feel like I’ve been very blessed with things that a lot of people around the world don't have," Pandit said.
One of those things driving Pandit is access to vaccines. Last year alone, 600,000 children died from vaccine-preventable diseases, according to Gavi.
"If we are able to get vaccines, we can help them go to school, let their parents go to work and then let their community thrive, so it's a huge deal because just by handing a vaccine over, we change the course of the whole community," Pandit said.
Pandit is now taking that message to Washington, D.C.
He’s among a handful of students nationwide chosen to attend a summit for the One Campaign: a global organization trying to end poverty and preventable disease.
Pandit started a chapter at Virginia Tech and has already been advocating politicians for change.
This weekend, Pandit is planning to meet with lawmakers, like Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, to ask them personally to renew funding for life-saving vaccines for children in the world's poorest countries.
"There's so many problems in the world. How can we attack it?" Pandit said.
Pandit and other students at the summit will be stressing to lawmakers to importance of backing organizations like Gavi, which helps vaccinate millions of children in developing countries.