Measles & Rubella Initiative
Protecting Children Around the World
Measles is one of the most contagious and severe childhood diseases. Every day, it takes the lives of hundreds of children around the world.
Even if a child survives, measles can cause permanent disabilities, such as blindness or brain damage. The risk is great in developing countries where there is a prevalence of malnourishment and limited access to health care.
But there is hope. Since 2001, the American Red Cross and our partners in the Measles & Rubella Initiative have vaccinated children in places such as Kenya, Benin and Ethiopia to protect them from these deadly diseases. It costs about $2 to vaccinate a child against measles and rubella, making it one of the most cost-effective health interventions available.
Helping to Make a Difference
The Red Cross plays a pivotal role in vaccination campaigns worldwide. Local volunteers use mass media, rallies, door-to-door visits and educational entertainment to reach families who do not have access to routine health services. Whether in distant villages or urban settlements, these campaigns may be the only way for children to receive this lifesaving vaccine.
Learn more about our work with the Measles & Rubella Initiative and partner organizations, including the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and World Health Organization.
Meet Some of the Families We've Helped
A mother waits with her child at the Langata Health Clinic in Nairobi to be vaccinated against measles. Kenya Red Cross volunteers have been going door to door to let families know about the measles campaign that targeted 19 million children ages 9 months to 14 years. It is one of the largest immunization campaigns in history.
Badra Essa was thrilled to learn that a measles vaccination campaign was coming to her village in remote Ethiopia. A Red Cross volunteer had visited her house before when her eldest son, Atatef, fell ill with measles. The chance to vaccinate and protect her youngest son was an opportunity she couldn’t miss. “I felt so sad when Atatef was ill”, Essa said. “He was sick for three months. Now I tell my neighbors to vaccinate their children. It is so important to prevent this disease.”
Children at the launch of the national measles campaign at the Yeshmnesh Academy in the Benishagul region of Ethiopia.
Children being vaccinated in Oda, Ethiopia.
Mothers wait with their children to get vaccinated at their local health clinic. The American Red Cross, as part of the Measles & Rubella Initiative, supported a measles vaccination campaign in Benin. Some 1,000 Benin Red Cross volunteers went door to door in three different cities to encourage mothers and fathers to vaccinate their children.