Reducing the Global Threat of Measles

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“We are delighted that Lions Clubs International is becoming more involved in the fight against measles and strengthening routine immunization. With its worldwide outreach, Lions is an important partner in ensuring that safe and effective vaccines reach families who need them most.” –Dr. Walt Orenstein, Deputy Director, Vaccine Delivery, Gates Foundation

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.

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LCIF Provides Emergency Funds for Cyclone Hudhud in India

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LCIF logoOn Sunday, October 12, a cyclone struck India in District 316-A causing severe damage in the Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh. It is reported that more than 400,000 people have been affected with 24 people are confirmed dead. Approximately 6,500 homes have been destroyed and 90,000 people have been relocated to temporary relief camps.

In response to this disaster, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) has awarded a US$100,000 Major Catastrophe Grant (MCAT) to District 316-A for cyclone relief efforts in the wake of Cyclone Hudhud following heavy rains and excessive flooding. Lions will use these funds to meet immediate needs by providing food, water, medicine, blankets and clothing. The funds will also support long-term reconstruction and recovery.

“Thank you for the Major Catastrophe Grant awarded to District 316-A for Cyclone Hudhud which has caused so much damage,” said LCIF Steering Committee Vice Chairperson and Past District Governor Aruna Oswal in an email to LCIF. “This has given a boost to the Lions of the district to do their relief work. As we Lions always come forward to help whenever any calamity happens in any part of the world, I am proud to be associated with LCIF.”

There are extensive power outages limiting communication and the resulting flooding is further complicating local relief efforts. At present, there are 40 Lions Clubs working with local relief agencies to manage the most urgent needs among those displaced.

“Your noble and timely gesture to those most affected by Cyclone Hudhud is unforgettable. It proves our slogan: ‘where there is a need there is a Lion,'” said District Governor Dasari Thirumala Rao of District 316-A in an email to LCIF.

For information on how to make a donation for disaster relief, or to make a donation online please visit the LCIF website.

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International White Cane Safety Day

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In honor of today being International White Cane Safety Day, we are encouraging Lions to help raise awareness about the white cane. The white cane is a symbol of independence —it shows confidence and skills of the person using it. It also signifies that a person using a white cane is blind or visually impaired. This alerts drivers to give white cane users the right of way. Some project ideas that your club can do to help raise awareness include:

  • Contact your local traffic department to learn about local White Cane Safety laws. Use social media, local radio, television or news media to share the information with your community.
  • Work with a rehabilitation specialist to provide a white cane and appropriate training for a person in your community who is in need.
  • Organize a braille trail or sensory garden outing for adults who use a white cane.
  • Arrange for a person who uses a white cane to be a guest presenter at a community or club event.

The Hadley School for the Blind is conducting a live seminar about the White Cane at 10:00 CDT today (October 15). If you are able to participate at that time, be sure to register for the audio seminar. If unable to listen to this seminar live, you can access the recording of this and other interesting Hadley podcasts.

How is your club raising awareness for white cane safety?

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Sight for Kids

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Seeing Life More Clearly

Like millions of children around the world, Handapangodage Don Rusiru Harita Perera, a fourth-grader at St. Johns School in Panadura, Sri Lanka, did not realize his vision was poor. His father, A.D. Prasad Ranjan Perera, was also unaware of the visual impairment his son was facing. Childhood vision problems are a serious concern, not only because they are frustrating and interfere with learning and development, but because some conditions can lead to serious vision loss or blindness if not corrected early.

A powerful partnership

Fortunately, Perera took part in a Sight for Kids vision screening at his school. Sight for Kids, a program of Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, has screened over 20 million children in Asia since it began in 2002. The program screens children for refractive error and other vision problems, including myopia (nearsightedness), which causes significant vision loss in more than 15 percent of children under the age of 15 in many Asian countries.

A close call, but a crisis averted

“We are very grateful to the Lion’s program,” said Perera’s father. “The specialist told my son that he would have gone blind in one eye, if not for the timely medical attention provided by the Lions.” After multiple screenings, Perera was transferred to a hospital where an eye specialist for children patched his good eye. His vision was soon restored, almost matching his healthy eye. Lions also provided him with free glasses.

“This has made our lives happy, especially for all the service we received from the Lions hospital free of cost. We could not have afforded the specialist treatment, medicines and glasses,” said Perera’s father. “We wish all success to the Lions who are saviors of children’s sight.”

Learn more about Sight for Kids.

From LCIF: Our Impact Story Archives

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LCIF Provides Emergency Grants in September 2014

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LCIF logoWhen natural disasters strike, Lions are there to offer help and support. In times of need, Lions are able to rely on disaster relief grants and funds from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF).

In September 2014, LCIF provided 14 emergency grants totaling US$110,000.

These grants are helping meet immediate needs in:

Republic of Korea, District 355-C
$10,000 for flood relief

Republic of Korea, District 356-C
$10,000 for flood relief

Japan, District 336-C
$10,000 for flood relief

Japan, District 336-A
$10,000 for flood relief

India, District 321-D
$10,000 for flood relief

India, District 323-F1
$5,000 for flood relief

India, District 316-A
$5,000 for flood relief

India, District 316-G
$10,000 for flood relief

United States, California, District 4-C1
$10,000 for wildfire relief

United States, California, District 4-C5
$10,000 for wildfire relief

Philippines, District 301-D2
$5,000 for typhoon relief

Mexico, District B-9
$10,000 for hurricane relief

Brazil, District LD-4
$5,000 for hailstorm relief

Philippines, District 301-C
$5,000 for typhoon relief

* Emergency grants listed by date approved.

At the heart of LCIF’s disaster relief programs are the individuals and families your donations reach. Learn more about grants recently awarded and the LCIF emergency grant program on the LCIF website. Or, you can learn about making a donation to assist with global disaster relief efforts.

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