The Measles Initiative announced today $9 million worth of donations from the Vodafone Foundation-United Nations Foundation Technology Partnership, Merck & Co, Inc., the Kessler Family Foundation and the American Red Cross. This support will help to enable the Measles Initiative to vaccinate an estimated 76 million children in about 25 countries during 2009.
“Measles deaths have declined 68% globally since the Measles Initiative partnership began in 2001,” says Michele Kessler, American Red Cross Global Measles Ambassador and founder of the Kessler Family Foundation. “But a funding gap for 2009 means we are in danger of losing our momentum. These commitments will help reduce that gap and allow us to continue saving lives.”
The Measles Initiative – an innovative global health partnership led by the American Red Cross, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, the United Nations Foundation and World Health Organization – is working to reduce measles mortality in 2010 by 90% (compared to 2000) and support U.N. Millennium Development Goal #4 of reducing under-five mortality rates by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.
“Already the Measles Initiative has saved nearly 3 million children; but this work is not done and we are committed to helping it succeed,” said Claire Thwaites, head of the Vodafone Foundation-United Nations Foundation Technology Partnership, which is committing $6 million over 3 years to support the initiative.
“The UN Foundation is so proud to be part of this remarkable public-private partnership,” said Kathy Calvin, the UN Foundation’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “This is an effective model for how UN agencies, private sector experts, non-governmental organizations and individuals can work together to save lives and improve public health around the world.”
Measles immunizations campaigns in Africa have been remarkably successful, resulting in a reduction in African measles mortality by an estimated 90% since 2000.
“Thanks to the Measles Initiative, the world has made great progress in combating measles,” said Margaret G. McGlynn, president, Merck Vaccines and Infectious Diseases. “We are proud to support measles surveillance programs to help countries identify the weakest areas of measles vaccine coverage and head off potential outbreaks. Such insight will be critical to help achieve the Measles Initiative’s goal to reduce measles deaths by 90 percent during this decade.” As part of its commitment Merck & Co., Inc. is providing a $2 million grant to strengthen measles surveillance in the African region.
Despite dramatic progress, real challenges remain in the fight to reduce measles deaths around the world. The Measles Initiative is simultaneously working to sustain gains made in Africa and other regions, while expanding support in India, which now accounts for the vast majority of global measles deaths. To succeed, the Initiative must rapidly secure new and additional financial support.
Note to the editor: Individuals can support the Measles Initiative by making a donation at www.measlesinitiative.org.
The Measles Initiative is a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally. Launched in 2001, the Initiative—led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the World Health Organization—provides technical and financial support to governments and communities on vaccination campaigns worldwide. To date, the Initiative has supported the vaccination of more than 500 million children in more than 60 countries helping reduce measles deaths by more than 68% globally and 91% in Africa (compared to 2000). To learn more or make a donation, visit www.measlesinitiative.org.
Christy Feig, American Red Cross, Washington, DC, +1 202 303 5074
Steven Stewart, CDC, Atlanta, +1 404 639 8327
Christian Moen, UNICEF, New York, +1 212 326 7516
Hayatee Hasan, WHO, Geneva, +41 22 791 2103