Have you ever learned something that shocked you? Something that truly astonished you? I did, when I learned that measles and rubella are still infecting millions of people every year all over the world. I consider myself a well-informed and engaged citizen. I have my master’s degree, work for a prominent company, keep up with the news, and stay connected with my community through activities and volunteering. So how did I miss this? How could there not be widespread awareness that 264 children are killed each day by measles? Every day! I’m shocked. Are you?
Measles and rubella seem as likely to occur as the bubonic plague or polio to me. But that’s because we live in a place where these ailments were eradicated so many years ago. These diseases aren’t eliminated in other areas of the world. Measles is one of the most contagious diseases ever known. Ninety percent of unvaccinated people exposed to the virus become infected. Effects can be debilitating especially to children, and can leave survivors with permanent disabilities.
Rubella, although milder, can seriously impact pregnant women and their babies. Children born to a mother with rubella can have congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), resulting in birth defects such as being born deaf or blind. Even though vaccines have existed for decades, these diseases still impact people in developing countries.
There’s hope! The Measles & Rubella Initiative is an effort 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. This global partnership has supported 88 countries to deliver more than 2 billion measles vaccine doses since 2001, and has reduced measles deaths by 84%. Eighty-four percent!
Vaccinating against these two diseases costs less than $2 per dose and can save thousands of lives. In addition to their pledge to vaccinate every child against measles and rubella, the initiative partner organizations are also committed to detecting and responding to outbreaks quickly to help reduce the impact of the diseases.
You can help in this fight! Making a donation is easy. Just text “PREVENT” to 90999 to donate $10. Join the discussion through social media, follow @MeaslesRubella on Twitter, keep up with the initiative through their blog, and share your support with your Facebook status.
There can be an end to these debilitating diseases, and it starts with you! There will be an end to measles and rubella if we as global citizens raise awareness and drive others to recognize the importance of the cure. Check out the Measles and Rubella Initiative website for additional information and advocacy tools on how to fight this fight.