Measles Initiative applauds GAVI Alliance for funding measles second dose in nine additional countries

Washington, D.C.

September 27, 2011


Megan Rabbitt

The GAVI Alliance today committed US $19.6 million between 2012 and 2016 to help nine countries deliver a second dose of measles vaccine for children through routine health services. The countries are: Burundi, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Myanmar, Sao Tome and Principe, and Zambia.

The Measles Initiative – a global health partnership led by the American Red Cross, United Nations Foundation, UNICEF, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization – applauds this investment and will provide each of these countries with technical guidance as they integrate a second dose into their national immunization efforts.

A second dose of measles vaccine through routine services is crucial to protect children who either did not receive their first dose or who did not develop measles immunity after the first dose of measles vaccine.

Currently, 54 countries still provide only one dose of measles vaccine as part of their national immunization schedule.

Measles is among the world’s most contagious diseases and one of the main causes of death among children worldwide. Even healthy and well-nourished children, if unvaccinated, are at risk of the disease and its severe health complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, and encephalitis. But in vulnerable populations the disease becomes deadly, which is why the vast majority of measles deaths occur in developing countries.

Since 2009, widespread outbreaks affecting 30 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have resulted in more than 320,000 new measles cases and more than 2,400 measles-related deaths. In the past year, several European nations have faced their worst measles outbreaks in more than 10 years, with more than 30,000 estimated cases across the region. The U.S. is also experiencing its largest measles outbreak since 1996, with more than 150 reported cases.

In 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year. With accelerated immunization activities spearheaded by governments and the Measles Initiative, global measles deaths dropped by 78 percent from 733,000 deaths in 2000 to 164,000 in 2008. Reductions in measles-related deaths during that same time period account for nearly a quarter (24 percent) of the overall decrease in childhood mortality, representing significant progress towards Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4) which aims to reduce under-five child mortality by two thirds between 1990 and 2015.

The Measles Initiative continues to advocate with governments and appeal to donors around the world to: (1) ensure that all children receive two doses of measles vaccine delivered through either routine services and/or mass vaccination campaigns; (2) establish effective surveillance, monitoring and evaluation; (3) respond rapidly to measles outbreaks; and (4) provide effective treatment for measles. The Measles Initiative supports countries to reach a series of interim targets towards the eventual eradication of measles. The first of these milestones is to reduce measles mortality by 95 percent by 2015 compared to 2000 levels.

Related links
Measles Initiative
GAVI Alliance: measles 2nd dose vaccine support
More on measles


About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation, a public charity, was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation builds and implements public/private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and works to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. Through campaigns and partnerships, the organization connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The campaigns reduce child mortality, empower women and girls, create a new energy future, secure peace and human rights, and promote technology innovation to improve health outcomes. These solutions are helping the UN advance the eight global targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). For more information, visit

About the Measles Initiative
Launched in 2001, the Measles 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 for mass vaccination campaigns and disease surveillance around the world. The Initiative has supported the vaccination of more than 700 million children helping to reduce measles deaths by 78% globally (compared to 2000). To learn more, visit