A partnership poised to defeat the disease
Although measles is a highly contagious viral disease, it is widely prevented in developed countries through routine vaccinations. However, the disease remains a heavy public-health burden in the developing world. Measles is also a major cause of preventable blindness, particularly among children. While the reduction in global measles mortality has been declining overall, UNICEF predicts that 1.7 million children could die from the disease in the next 3 years without further action. That’s not a reality that Lions care to see come true.
LCIF and Lions are committed to fighting measles and its devastating side effects, including childhood blindness. LCIF joins a network of other humanitarian leaders through the Measles Initiative, a worldwide effort to protect children from measles and strengthen routine immunization services. UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Red Cross, and the United Nations Foundation are among the organizations contributing to these efforts since 2001. The pilot year (2010-2011) involvement from Lions focused on three main areas: 1) advocacy at the local, regional and national levels; 2) direct involvement in social marketing; and 3) financial support. In addition to supporting vaccinations, of key importance to LCIF is strengthening immunization delivery systems to help ensure sustainability in combating the disease.
Reaching 41 million in the first year
To support this project, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded LCIF a grant of US$400,000, and LCIF added to those funds an additional US$300,000 in the pilot year. The Gates Foundation is a leader in addressing global health issues, particularly those often given little attention in developing countries. Focusing on measles vaccination campaigns in Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mali and Nigeria, Lions and their partners increased vaccination coverage for children ages nine to 47 months old, serving a total of more than 41 million children.
“The Measles Initiative is very excited and optimistic about our new partnership with Lions. Lions, with members in many Measles Initiative priority countries, can provide an extremely valuable combination of social mobilization and organizational capability with political advocacy that complement our other partner organization activities,” said Andrea Gay, Executive Director of Children’s Health, United Nations Foundation.
The Challenge Grant
The Gates Foundation is now challenging Lions to mobilize US$10 million. To help Lions in this effort, the Gates Foundation is donating US$1 for every $2 raised by Lions. This is a total matching contribution of US$5 million, the largest single donation in LCIF’s history! Together, LCIF and the Gates Foundation will provide a total of US$15 million to fight measles this year.
Through this challenge and through the Measles Initiative, 157 million children will be vaccinated this year. To support LCIF and the One Shot, One Life: Lions Measles Initiative, please donate online. Contributions are eligible for Melvin Jones Fellowship recognition.
“The Gates Foundation is very proud to have been a partner in your early measles projects, and we’re excited to continue working together… If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. With Lions in the lead, there is no telling how far we will go together,” said Bill Gates, Sr., Co-chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.