Addressing the under funding that so greatly impedes global progress to meeting established measles and rubella elimination goals is an onerous task. A major step forward in doing so was announced after the Board meeting of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance approved a new support package for measles and rubella immunization. Gavi has increased its commitment during the 2016-2020 period from US$ 600 million to US$ 820 million.
This additional boost of funds will benefit Gavi-eligible countries, providing a stable and predictable source of financing to conduct periodic follow up measles/measles-rubella SIAs in children under 5 years to maintain high population immunity. Furthermore, it will now be possible to support a one-time catch-up vaccination campaign targeting children under 15 years in another 50 Gavi-eligible countries yet to introduce rubella-containing vaccine in their routine immunization programs. The additional Gavi funds are part of an overall strategy that encourages country ownership and sustainable financing of measles and rubella vaccines delivered through routine immunization.
The Gavi measles and rubella strategy complements the work that the Measles & Rubella Initiative (M&RI) has been coordinating since 2001. Through policy development, advocacy with governments and programme implementation, M&RI continues to steer the overall global effort for measles and rubella elimination. Our work also continues apace with the verification process of measles and rubella elimination, surveillance through a network of over 700 laboratories, and outbreak response.
Together with governments, our work for the past 15 years to end measles and rubella has brought a 79% drop in mortality since 2000. We know what can be done to ensure that the current 115,000 deaths per year that still occur from measles are brought to an end, but only with political commitment, partnership and financial investment on our side.