Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Benefit for Measles Initiative – Boston

Joint Benefit Concert for the Measles Initiative
BU Law Auditorium
Friday, 13 April 2007, 7:30 pm

Tickets $8 at the door, or email: buredcross@gmail.com.
Sponsored by Harvard, Tufts, BU, & MIT Red Cross Societies
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For as little as US $1, one child can be vaccinated against measles. Although measles has been virtually eliminated in the West through effective vaccination, it still kills nearly 454,000 people globally per year. 90% of these deaths are children under five. Measles is one of the leading causes of death among children in most developing countries despite the availability of a safe, effective and relatively inexpensive vaccine for more than 40 years.  Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest burden of measles, and since 2001, efforts by the Measles Initiative have reduced estimated measles cases and deaths by 60%. The effort is now being expanded to Asia.

Children contract measles in overcrowded living conditions (especially refugee camps), at very young ages when their immune systems are not strong, and if they are malnourished. In the West, measles often presents as a mild rash, but in developing conditions, fatal complications can include pneumonia, diarrhea, or brain damage from measles encephalitis.

The Measles Initiative is led by the American Red Cross, with operational support to measles burdened countries. The Initiative follows the WHO/UNICEF strategy, which includes routine vaccination, vaccination campaigns, surveillance of the disease and treatment of sick children with vitamin A in all countries. The inclusion of vaccination campaigns was adopted as a result of the highly successful Rotary effort to eradicate polio, and has a profound impact on reducing measles cases and deaths as it allows health care workers to immunize children who do not have access to routine health services.

Impressively, the campaign has a very clear structure:

  1. PLANNING – Coordination among the core partners, in-country partners, and Red Cross national societies to determine target populations, resource needs, and logistics
  2. THE COLD CHAIN (supply) – The process of getting the vaccine and all needed supplies from a warehouse in the country to the hundreds of vaccination posts
  3. SOCIAL MOBILIZATION (create the demand) – The Red Cross role of spreading the word about the importance of immunization to each family with a child in the targeted age group
  4. FOLLOW-UP – Processing the results of the campaign to determine the successes based on coverage, weak points, and future plans

For more information: Measles Initiative

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Written by farzaneh

April 13, 2007 at 8:36 am

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