Each year in Kenya, more than 350,000 children miss their scheduled routine vaccinations. This omission leaves kids vulnerable to preventable diseases, such as measles and rubella. Humanitarians and governments around the globe have banded together to address this pressing problem and save lives.
From dense urban centers to dusty rural villages, the American Red Cross and the Kenya Red Cross have mobilized volunteers to go house-to-house, identifying and connecting kids with local health centers. The teams are targeting at-risk communities in Kenya whose inhabitants are more likely to miss their routine vaccinations.
“I’ve learned the importance of taking my child to clinic for immunization,” says one mother clutching her young son and adding, “When I see the Red Cross I feel happy because I know they’ve come to help.”
Volunteers who visit families door-to-door come from the communities they serve. They know the families they visit and witness the tangible difference they make in the lives of their neighbors. “The people who live here—I care about them very much,” remarks Justus Makanga, a volunteer with the Kenyan Red Cross.
We must remain vigilant against these deadly diseases
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. It costs about $2 to vaccinate a child against measles and rubella, making it one of the most cost-effective health interventions available.
Since 2001, the American Red Cross and our partners in the Measles & Rubella Initiative have vaccinated children all over the globe—helping prevent 21.1 million measles-related deaths.
While major achievements have been made since the founding of the Measles & Rubella Initiative, recent events have demonstrated that humanitarians must remain vigilant in efforts to maintain progress towards the elimination of these life-threatening diseases. Last year, the world witnessed a 30% spike in measles cases around the world. Significant outbreaks occurred in countries and regions that had either achieved or were near measles elimination. Vaccinations could have made a difference.
The American Red Cross and its partners in the Measles & Rubella Initiative will not rest until every child is reached—until we achieve a world where no one needlessly suffers from vaccine preventable diseases.
The Measles & Rubella Initiative was founded by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF and World Health Organization.