Vaccine Alliance to support week-long campaign against two life-threatening diseases
GENEVA, 17 October 2014 – Tanzania will tomorrow begin protecting 21 million children against measles and rubella as part of a nationwide immunisation campaign supported by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
All children aged between nine months and 14 years old will be able to receive the vaccine through an initial catch up campaign taking place over the next seven days. Once the campaign has been completed Tanzania will transition away from using a single-antigen measles vaccine in its routine programme and replace it with the combined measles-rubella vaccine.
“Children across Tanzania will benefit from protection against these two potentially deadly diseases,” said Gavi CEO, Dr Seth Berkley. “Our aim is to help countries reach more than 600 million boys and girls with the measles-rubella vaccine through Gavi-supported campaigns and routine immunisation by 2020, reducing the number of deaths from measles but also the devastating disabilities caused by rubella.”
Measles is a highly contagious disease which is often fatal. Global efforts have seen large decreases in the number of deaths from measles over the past decade, but the disease still claimed more than 120,000 lives in 2012, the equivalent of 14 deaths every hour. Rubella, while less frequently fatal, can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, leading to foetal deaths, severe birth defects and disabilities.
Volunteers from Gavi Matching Fund partner Lions Club International are working with the Tanzanian government and other in-country partners, including UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), to raise awareness of the campaign and support health workers with community outreach. This includes targeted activities such as working alongside vaccinators and sharing relevant information materials with parents and caregivers.
“Lions are committed to the fight against measles and rubella in Tanzania and around the world,” said Lions Clubs International Foundation Chairperson Barry Palmer. “We’re raising funds. We’re actively supporting campaigns in communities impacted by the diseases. And we’re looking forward to accomplishing more through our partnership with Gavi.”
Serum Institute of India (SII) has donated 5.5 million doses of the measles-rubella vaccine to Gavi to support the Tanzanian campaign. The manufacturer agreed in 2013 to donate a total of 22 million measles-rubella vaccine doses to Gavi over a period of four years.
Gavi’s support builds on the efforts of the Measles & Rubella Initiative (M&RI) and commitment from governments that have helped to dramatically reduce global measles deaths worldwide by 78%, from an estimated 562,000 in 2000 to 122,000 in 2012.
Note to editors
Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service organisation and a Gavi Matching Fund partner. Its Foundation has committed US$ 6 million toward immunisation in Tanzania, which has been matched through the Gavi Matching Fund to bring the total to US$ 12 million for the initiative. Lions Clubs has pledged in total US$ 30 million to Gavi to help fight measles and rubella in the world poorest countries. Lions Clubs has further committed to deploy their 1.35 million volunteers worldwide to raise awareness and mobilise communities to support measles and rubella elimination goals.
About Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership committed to saving children’s lives and protecting people’s health by increasing access to immunisation in poor countries. The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. Gavi uses innovative finance mechanisms, including co-financing by recipient countries, to secure sustainable funding and adequate supply of quality vaccines. Since 2000, Gavi has contributed to the immunisation of an additional 440 million children and the prevention of approximately 6 million future deaths. Learn more at www.gavi.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is funded by governments (Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States), the European Commission, the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as well as private and corporate partners (Absolute Return for Kids, Anglo American plc., the A&A Foundation, The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Comic Relief, the ELMA Vaccines and Immunization Foundation, JP Morgan, “la Caixa” Foundation, LDS Charities, Lions Club International Foundation, and Vodafone).
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