United Nations Foundation Awards $4.5 Million to Measles Initiative; Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Tanzania Targeted

UN Foundation, The American Red Cross, CDC, UNICEF, Who Making Headway On Goal To Immunize 200 Million Children

August 14, 2002


Megan Rabbitt

The UN Foundation today announced its fourth round of funding to the ongoing campaign to immunize children in Africa against measles. The $4.5 million grant will enable the UN Foundation to maintain the momentum of its partnership with the American Red Cross, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organization (WHO), and many governments throughout Africa.

“We are extremely proud to stand among the leaders of the initiative. The recent success in Kenya demonstrates that working together we can accomplish more than any one of us alone,” said President of the UN Foundation Timothy E. Wirth, referring to the country-wide immunization campaign in Kenya last June.

“The Measles Initiative takes advantage of the enormous investment in polio eradication made by the UN Foundation and other partners by building on the capacity created for planning, surveillance, social mobilization and laboratory diagnosis. Funding of measles control activities will assist the United Nations in achieving one of the Millennium Development Goals on time – to reduce child mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015,” said Amir Dossal, Executive Director of the UN Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP). UNFIP is the central coordinating mechanism within the United Nations for working with the Foundation.

The awarding of this grant follows the successful Measles Initiative campaign in Kenya that vacccinated over 13 million children – the largest mobilization to date. In addition, this was the first time children in parts of Kenya have ever received both measles and polio or neo-natal tetanus vaccines.

“The Kenya Ministry of Health, together with its partners, is currently conducting extensive evaluations of the recent measles immunization campaign there,” notes Steven Stewart, Health Communications Specialist at CDC’s Global Immunization Division. “Results from the coverage and economic evaluations will provide valuable lessons that other countries can apply in their immunization campaigns.”

The Measles Initiative, begun in 2001, has focused on 13 African countries. This phase of the campaign will target four African countries and enable over 15 million children to be immunized, saving over 30,000 children this year alone. The long-term goal of the campaign is to vaccinate 200 million children to eliminate measles in Africa by 2005 and prevent 1.2 million deaths. To-date the Measles Initiative has immunized more than 36 million children. Measles is the number one vaccine-preventable killer of children in Africa – ahead of AIDS, tuberculosis and malnutrition.

“In only one year we have saved the lives of thousands of children. Working together has been the key to the progress we have made in reducing death and illness caused by measles in children in sub-Saharan Africa, where half the world’s measles deaths occur each year,” said Andrea Gay, Children’s Health Program Officer at the UN Foundation.


  • The American Red Cross provides funding and is part of the 178 members strong International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The International Federation has a global network of 100,000 million volunteers that can be called to do social mobilization, ensuring each child has a chance to be immunized.
  • UN Foundation provides a substantial amount of funding as well as the financial mechanisms necessary to move funds between agencies and to countries.
  • CDC provides funding and advises on the technical and scientific basis for the vaccination and disease surveillance activities.
  • WHO provides overall technical leadership and helps countries design the policies and health guidelines for each country to ensure that proper, and high quality steps are taken during immunization activities.
  • UNICEF is the only organization allowed to import the vaccine into Africa and has a sophisticated logistics capacity as well as great stature in each country.

The Measles Initiative is a long-term commitment to control measles deaths in Africa by vaccinating 200 million children, preventing 1.2 million deaths over five years. Leading this effort are the American Red Cross, United Nations Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund. Other key players in the fight against measles include the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and countries and governments affected by measles. For more information, or to support the Measles Initiative, log on to www.measlesinitiative.org.


The United Nations Foundation was created in 1998 with businessman and philanthropist R.E. Turner’s historic gift to support UN causes. The United Nations Foundation promotes a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world through the support of the United Nations and its Charter. Through its grantmaking and by building new and innovative public-private partnerships, the United Nations Foundation acts to meet the most pressing health, humanitarian, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century.