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Advocates lead the battle against measles
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Jamie Mazzurco
 
February 9, 2007

They come in all ages, genders, ethnicities and from all walks of life. They are students and teachers, parents and children, board members and young professionals. Who are they? They are American Red Cross volunteers and measles advocates, who are responsible for raising awareness and support for the Measles Initiative. This month, they are the honored and appreciated individuals who have made the success of the Measles Initiative possible.

A girl gets a measles vaccination during a mass immunization campaign in Bangladesh, February 2005. (Photo Credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross)
A girl gets a measles vaccination during a mass immunization campaign in Bangladesh, February 2005.
(Photo Credit: Daniel Cima/American Red Cross)

Since its launch in 2001, the Measles Initiative has made a tremendous impact on the reduction of measles deaths globally. Over the past five years, the Initiative has taken the lead in supporting mass measles immunization campaigns.

Largely as a result of these efforts, more than 360 million children between nine months to fifteen years old received the measles vaccine through immunization campaigns between 1999 and 2005. Overall, global measles deaths have fallen from an estimated 873,000 in 1999 to 345,000 in 2005.

The progress was even greater in Africa, where deaths plunged from an estimated 506,000 to 126,000 – a 75 percent drop in five years. Worldwide, measles deaths have fallen by 60 percent, exceeding the United Nations goal to halve measles deaths between 1999 and 2005.

Kids sign a Red Cross flag during a “Beat Down Measles” fundraiser at the Alexandria Chapter of the American Red Cross. (Photo Credit: American Red Cross)
Kids sign a Red Cross flag during a “Beat Down Measles” fundraiser at the Alexandria Chapter of the American Red Cross. (Photo Credit: American Red Cross)

Through the dedication of American Red Cross volunteers and others from around the world, the Initiative can celebrate this major public health success. Over the past five years, advocates have mobilized and taken action against measles, leading the way in spreading awareness and sponsoring fundraising events to support the campaign.

Building on its success to date, the Initiative has endorsed the new global health goal of reducing measles deaths globally by 90 percent by 2010. In addition to this ambitious goal, the Initiative also will expand its campaign to Asia and other at-risk regions around the world.

The Measles Initiative would like to thank everyone who has contributed to its success so far. It is through the continued help and dedication of the measles advocates that this new goal will be realized.

The Measles Initiative, launched in 2001, is a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally, with the goal of cutting measles deaths by 90 percent by 2010 compared to 2000. During its first five years (2001-2005), the Initiative supported the vaccination of more than 217 million children in Africa, saving 1.2 million lives. Through these efforts, measles cases and deaths have dropped by 48 percent worldwide and by 60 percent in Africa, where measles deaths and disability are highest. Building on its success in Africa, the Initiative has expanded into Asia. The Initiative increasingly provides additional life-saving health interventions in its campaigns, including vitamin A, de-worming medicine and insecticide-treated nets for malaria prevention. The Measles Initiative has mobilized more than $308 million through 2006 to support campaigns in more than 43 countries in Africa and Asia. Leading these efforts are the American Red Cross, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and World Health Organization. For more information or to make a donation, log on to www.measlesinitiative.org.


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