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Measles & Rubella Initiative Newsletter - November 2014

17 November 2014

While there’s plenty to celebrate, it’s also important to note that global measles elimination is at a crossroads according to the latest 2013 measles mortality data released by WHO. Global measles mortality has dipped an estimated 75% between 2000 and 2013 but estimated coverage of the first dose of measles-containing vaccine remains at 84%. Furthermore, elimination goals for 2015 will not be met. Read the M&RI joint statement on the latest data and see the accompanying infographic as well.

Measles and Rubella Campaigns

Hats off to Tanzania for successfully completing an enormous intervention to protect children against measles and rubella! The weeklong campaign made Tanzania just the second country in eastern and southern Africa to introduce the dual vaccine. Approximately 21 million children were vaccinated and also given vitamin A supplements, deworming tablets, and treatments for often-neglected tropical diseases. Going forward, the dual vaccine will be included in the country’s routine immunization program. Photos courtesy of Lions Clubs International and CDC.

October also saw Vietnam kick off its measles-rubella campaign to reach 23 million children ages 1-14 over the next six months. Viet Nam experienced an unprecedented rise in measles infections in 2014, affecting more than 5000 children with 140 deaths. The campaign runs to February 2015. Viet Nam has set a goal to achieve measles elimination by 2017.

Success in Cambodia: The Disappearance of Measles

CDC reports that not one single case of measles has been confirmed in Cambodia for three full years! Why? First and foremost, the country has conducted mass vaccination campaigns since the early 2000s.

Also, integrating rubella tracking with the measles detection system has allowed the country to gain GAVI funding to purchase the dual vaccine, and a nationwide mass vaccination campaign began in November 2013 to protect children against both diseases. With no more cases reported, verification of measles elimination will soon be underway.

Spotlight on Giving

A shout out to LDS Charities, the M&RI’s longest donor partner! In September, LDS Charities presented a check for $US 1 million to the Initiative. LDS contributions on the ground have been just as noteworthy. Each year, thousands of LDS church members volunteer during measles-rubella campaigns with social mobilization efforts to increase demand and awareness. Since 2003, LDS has contributed approximately $US 19 million to global measles and rubella elimination efforts.

On November 9th, Project Perpetual hosted its inaugural Dinner & Auction with new works by artist Jeff Koons to raise funds for childhood vaccines. Koons created ten new works incorporating Hermès handbags donated by designers, celebrities, and dignitaries. Koons’ main sculpture featured a woman and child, inspired by Pablo Picasso’s painting La Soupe. The evening included an auction to benefit the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. The auction raised over $US 5.5 million in funds towards the fight against measles. Read more on this star-studded event.

Ivy + Bean vs The Measles

The beloved characters of the best-selling children’s series Ivy + Bean, have successfully set out to tackle measles. We teamed up with the American Academy of Pediatrics in October to launch “Ivy + Bean versus The Measles” through a series of materials designed for clinics and pediatric offices throughout the United States. The images are meant to open a dialogue with parents and children on measles vaccinations in a non-threatening way.

Technical Corner

In this new feature, we point you to a few publications that you might find interesting or useful.

  • A recent WHO Information Note discusses immunization services and the risks they present in light of the Ebola epidemic. 
  • An article by Walter Orenstein, MD, and Katherine Seib, MSPH, in the October 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine warns against resurging measles cases in the United States.

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