When was the last time you heard of a child dying from the measles, or suffering defects as a result of rubella? In the United States these tragedies are almost unheard of, but not so in the rest of the world.
In the year 2000, measles was one of the top five causes of death globally for children under the age of five, resulting in more than 500,000 deaths annually. Since the founding of the Measles and Rubella Initiative, more than 2 billion vaccinations have been provided around the world, contributing to a 79% decrease in measles mortality worldwide and an estimated 20.3 million deaths prevented. Despite this success, more than 134,000 deaths still occur each year and more than 100,000 children are born with serious defects from congenital rubella syndrome.
The American Red Cross has, since 2001, joined other global partners to eliminate these preventable childhood deaths. Initiative partners use local volunteers to spearhead vaccination campaigns. In this way, parents and guardians are getting the life-saving information in their own dialects, in culturally sensitive ways. In some areas, the volunteers have also been able to promote other health-related objectives.
The American Red Cross supports the Measles and Rubella Initiative in a number of ways. Our national organization assists with communication among the partners, hosts the partners meeting, and updates and maintains the Measles and Rubella Initiative Web site. The American Red Cross also supports the initiative financially.
The numbers and organizational details can be mind-numbing, but the end result is heart-warming. The American Red Cross, through the Measles and Rubella Initiative, is helping to prevent the deaths and permanent disabilities of children.
The cost of saving a child’s life with measles and rubella vaccinations is miniscule. The cost is about $2 per child for both vaccinations.
About the price of a take-out cup of coffee.
For more information or to make a donation to help prevent measles and rubella, please visit www.measlesrubellainitiative.org
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.