Measles Initiative Partners Hold 10th Annual Meeting

UNICEF.ORG

WASHINGTON, D.C.- On September 13-14th, the founding partners of the Measles Initiative as well as many others involved met for the 10th Annual Measles Initiative Partners Meeting to discuss the status of measles, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome globally, and the new strategic plan to move toward measles eradication in the next decade.

The meeting opened with a keynote address by Dr. William Foege, Senior Fellow at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who played a key role in developing the strategy for the global eradication of smallpox in the 1970s. The next two days focused on themes highlighting current progress and plans for measles immunization in each WHO region, challenges, rubella and routine immunization, outbreaks, advocacy and mobilization. Each topic was addressed in presentations by leaders from many of the organizations invested in the initiative, followed by discussion amongst all participants. These included representatives from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, WHO, UNICEF, UN Foundation, the CDC, Médecins Sans Frontières, PATH, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GAVI Alliance, and Lions Club International, among many others.

Having recently passed a milestone of vaccinating 1 billion children worldwide and preventing at least 4.3 million deaths, the initiative continues to move toward a goal of 95% reduction in measles-related deaths by 2015, and eradication by 2020. The Measles Initiative aligns with the fourth Millennium Development Goal, to reduce child mortality by 2/3 by 2015 (compared to 1990).

However, many hurdles lie ahead, including ensuring continued funding for the immunization campaigns as other health programs compete for limited resources, and controlling outbreaks. Response strategies focus on surveillance, improving efficiency of immunization systems by building on preexisting polio eradication infrastructures, eliminating gaps in routine immunization coverage, and implementing innovative delivery methods. In addition, the meeting addressed financial issues, political commitment to routine immunization, the possibility of adding rubella to the platform of measles elimination, and the new Vaccinate a Village campaign.

As young professionals, we too can make an impact through advocacy and raising awareness of the Measles Initiative. Introduce Vaccinate a Village in your workplace or local young professionals group, sponsor a fundraiser or merely spread the word. Send success stories to redcrossyp@gmail.com to be included in our monthly Red Cross Young Professionals newsletter. Meanwhile, please visit the Measles Initiative website and Vaccinate a Village website for more information and to begin promoting the Measles Initiative in your own community.

Katie Soe
American Red Cross, National Young Professionals Council

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