Statement by Kofi Annan, United Nations Foundation Board Member, Calling on the WHO Executive Board to Set an Eradication Date for Measles

January 16, 2011


Alexis Krieg

“There is no better time than now to eliminate measles once and for all. As a result of the hard work of country governments, WHO, UNICEF, NGOs and others, we have made tremendous progress in reducing measles mortality by nearly 80% worldwide. But we can’t stop here; measles still infects 30 million children each year and kills 450 people every day.

“When the Executive Board of the WHO convenes in Geneva tomorrow, I encourage them to recognize the importance of and fully support setting a measles eradication date. This comes on the heels of key recommendations from two groups who have stated that measles eradication is possible – the first was WHO’s own Global Technical Consultation Group in July 2010 who proposed a target date of 2020 and the second was WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization in November 2010. SAGE concluded that measles can and should be eradicated with a target date to be set by the World Health Assembly.

“For more than a decade, the UN Foundation has worked hand-in-hand with the WHO, UNICEF, other UN leaders, the American Red Cross, Centers for Disease Control, and developing countries’ Ministries of Health to develop and expand major initiatives to help children survive and thrive. In support of innovative health partnerships, the UN Foundation has mobilized hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of people, brought new private sector partners into the field, helped strengthen the capacity of UN health agencies, and provided program expertise to help save children’s lives.

“As a parent, I know we all want to protect our children so no mother or father loses a child from measles. It’s vital that the international community recognize the importance and take the necessary steps of eradicating this easily preventable disease so parents everywhere can protect their children and offer them a healthy future. Together, let’s make measles history.” 

The United Nations Foundation will be launching a new campaign in 2011 to raise awareness and funds in the United States around the importance of childhood immunizations in the developing world, including measles. To learn more about measles and how you can help, go to


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. We build and implement public/private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and work to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. Through our campaigns and partnerships, we connect people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The campaigns we conduct 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