Quick look: Lions Club International and GAVI Alliance partner to protect children from measles

ATLANTA/GENEVA/NEW YORK/WASHINGTON – 8 July 2013: Today, the Measles & Rubella Initiative welcomes the Lions Clubs International plans to raise $US 30 million for measles immunization. The funds will be given to the GAVI Alliance and can double to US$60 million with matching commitments made by the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Nearly all countries of the world – 183 of the 194 World Health Organization Member States – have committed to eliminate measles before or by 2020, a goal of the Global Vaccine Action Plan. The Measles & Rubella Initiative is committed to help countries reach their measles and rubella elimination goals by offering funds, technical and advocacy support.

“Measles remains an important cause of child deaths, but these are completely preventable if 95% of children are vaccinated,” said Dr. Peter Strebel, in charge of accelerated disease control at the WHO, on behalf of the Measles & Rubella Initiative. “We believe that countries which want to eliminate measles should be supported to achieve this critical child health goal. With ongoing measles and rubella outbreaks, new funding support is urgently needed and very welcome.”

The Measles & Rubella Initiative is a global partnership dedicated to ensuring no child dies from measles or is born with congenital rubella syndrome. Since 2001, the Initiative has distributed more than US $950 million, delivered more than 1.1 billion doses of measles vaccine in 80 countries, and helped reduce measles deaths globally by 71%. Lions Clubs International, the GAVI Alliance, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are valued partners in this effort.

A major focus of the Measles & Rubella Initiative is specialised technical and advocacy support offered through its spearheading partners – the World Health Organization, UNICEF, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Red Cross, and the United Nations Foundation — to national immunization programs. This includes support for program evaluation, disease surveillance, outbreak response, laboratory networks and vaccination campaign planning, as well as social mobilization to increase demand for immunizations.

The Initiative is also advocating for eligible countries to introduce a combined measles-rubella vaccine, which will be funded by the GAVI Alliance. Using the combined vaccine, countries can work towards eliminating measles and stopping rubella, which causes about 100,000 babies to be born with birth defects every year. Despite the gains made against measles, about 430 children still die each day of measles-related complications, and measles outbreaks continue in several countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe.\

For more information contact:

  • Hayatee Hasan, WHO Geneva, +41 79 500 6532, HasanH@who.int
  • Alan Janssen, US CDC, Atlanta, +1 (404) 639 8517, axj3@cdc.gov
  • Eric Porterfield, UN Foundation, Washington, +1 (202) 352 6087, eporterfield@unfoundation.org

Our website: www.MeaslesRubellaInitiative.org

Follow us on Twitter: @MeaslesRubella

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