Measles and Malaria

These past few months have been a serious whirl of activity and have been characterized by exciting new developments within the American Red Cross International Services Department.

The Measles Initiative, which started in 2001, has continued to show strong results through several vaccination campaigns in Africa, and most recently Asia. The newest figures were released in a joint press conference at the United Nations in New York and also in Geneva, Switzerland on January 18th, 2007. We can be proud to say that due to the efforts executed over the past six years, 217 million children have already been vaccinated in Africa, saving an estimated 1.2 million lives. According to Measles Outreach Coordinator Lily Jones, youth involvement has been and continues to be key with national numbers putting youth fundraising results at over half a million dollars. And who says young people don’t have power of the purse? (or at lease of persuasion)

Due to these successes, the Initiative will go global in 2007–meaning that campaigns will now be conducted in every region of the world. In addition, the Malaria No More partnership has gotten into full swing, with both projects being publicized in the media under the umbrella hook of the two key global youth health initiatives spearheaded by the American Red Cross. Major international publications and programs such as The New York Times, The Economist, and the BBC World News have recently began in-depth reporting on these diseases and the efforts being put out by both sets of partnerships (which do in fact incorporate different sponsors and therefore is the main reason that even while the Measles & Malaria initiatives can be marketed together, they must continue to solicit actual donations separately).

For example, the Malaria No More partnership is working closely with the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and was highlighted during the White House Summit on Malaria that took place in December 2006. One major outcome of that meeting was the declaration from President Bush of April 25th as National Malaria Awareness Day. Therefore the International Services department in Washington D.C. has been hard at work these past few months generating chapter interest in celebrating this day with local Malaria fundraisers and/or outreach campaigns. The most exciting development on the national level is the recent announcement that Malaria No More will be one of the featured charities during the April 24 & April 25th “Idol Gives Back” broadcasts of America’s most watched TV show. Can you just imagine the mass awareness and publicity potential with Malaria No More sharing the stage with stars like Gwen Stefani, Pink, & Borat?!

Another innovative project that will be taking place during April 2007 will be a series of multi-city fundraisers to support the Measles Initiative. These five city fundraisers are part of a larger National Youth Council initiative, the National Measles and Malaria Task Force. This special task force was assembled in the winter of 2006 with the main goal of creating a network of measles ambassadors across the country and engaging them in a coordinated national fundraising campaign. The five cities currently participating are Los Angeles, Houston, New York City, Boston, and Washington D.C. Each city is being represented by a youth liaison who manages the on the ground logistics of that city’s fundraiser. There is an eclectic mix of event programs that are in the planning stages. A national task force website is also in the works.

We hope to expand this Task Force to include several more interested chapters with strong measles youth programs as this program progresses into Winter 2007. If you would be interested in participating at all, please email me at ShrutiJHU@yahoo.com.

Myself and Lily Jones were also able to present both of these exciting outreach projects targeting youth–The multi-city fundraisers (April 2007) and the National Malaria Day projects (April 25th 2007) through speeches at VAI–Volunteer Administration Institute (January 2007) in San Antonio Texas. Informational packets on both causes–both the Measles Initiative and the Malaria No More partnership–as well as updated marketing materials (brochure yay!) were made available at the International Services booth and are also currently available online (email JonesLil@usa.redcross.org with questions).

Overall, the new year has brought new energy and excitement to the American Red Cross’s International Programs through new partnerships and media attention. For more information on these initiatives, please visit the national websites:

MEASLES: www.measlesinitiative org
MALARIA: www.malarianomore.org

Shruti Mathur, New York
Member, National Youth Council

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