SAN DIEGO, August 8, 2011 – The American Red Cross and its Measles Initiative partners today announced they have helped vaccinate one billion children in more than 60 developing countries since 2001, making significant gains in the global effort to stop measles.
The child who received the history-making measles vaccination was one of 3.5 million immunized in Mozambique this May. The immunization campaign was sponsored by the American Red Cross and the Measles Initiative’s four other founding partners – the United Nations Foundation, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, and World Health Organization.
“When we started the Measles Initiative ten years ago, we knew that we would help save millions of lives, but we never imagined where the public’s support would take us,” said David Meltzer, senior vice president of international services with the American Red Cross. “This milestone in measles control is significant and improves the overall outlook for children’s health around the world.”
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 mortality has decreased by an impressive 78 percent worldwide from 733,000 deaths in 2000 to 164,000 in 2008. Reductions in measles-related deaths during that same time period accounts for nearly a quarter (24 percent) of the overall decrease in childhood mortality, representing significant progress toward Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG4). This goal, which was set by the UN, aims to reduce the mortality rate for children less than five years by two thirds between 1990 and 2015.
“With every dollar donated, we vaccinated another child,” said Joe W. Craver, chief executive officer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter of the American Red Cross. “Across the globe, residents of San Diego and Imperial Counties have stopped outbreaks, improved treatment and protected future generations from one of the world’s deadliest diseases.”
Looking ahead to its second decade, the Measles Initiative will focus on achieving a series of interim targets toward the eventual eradication of measles. The first of these milestones will be to reduce measles mortality by 95 percent by 2015 (compared to 2000). The Measles Initiative estimates it will need approximately $212 million between 2012 and 2015 to reach the targets.
About the American Red Cross, San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter
The American Red Cross is not a government agency and relies on the generosity of the American people to provide our programs and services. The San Diego/Imperial Counties Chapter is the most trusted community service organization in education, preparation and response to natural disasters and human emergencies. With the public’s ongoing support we provide lifesaving preparedness training; disaster relief services; 24-hour emergency services to deployed military personnel and their families; and nutritional counseling through our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. For more information about or to support the chapter please contact (858) 309-1200 or visit www.sdarc.org. Please also connect with us on Facebook and YouTube.
About the Measles Initiative:
The Measles Initiative is a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally. Launched in 2001, the 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 on vaccination campaigns and disease surveillance worldwide. For more information, please visit: www.measlesinitiative.org