The 14th Annual Measles & Rubella Initiative Partners Meeting

The 14th Annual Measles & Rubella Initiative Partners Meeting, 15-16 September, 2015   Washington, DC

Participants:  This year’s meeting was the largest in the partnership’s history with 136 participants in attendance representing 63 organizations actively working towards the elimination of measles and rubella globally.  Organizations being represented included the American Red Cross, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF, World Health Organization, Lions Club International, Sabin Vaccine Institute, PATH, DFID, LDS Charities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and others.

Purpose: The 2015 Measles & Rubella Initiative Annual Partners Meeting focused on the human and financial cost of measles and rubella and explored what needs to be done to achieve the measles and rubella goals as outlined in the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP).

Details: The meeting was hosted by the American Red Cross at National Headquarters.  American Red Cross President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gail McGovern gave the welcoming words and opened the meeting.  She was accompanied on stage by leadership from the five founding partners of the Measles & Rubella Initiative: Ms. Kathy Calvin, President CEO of the UN Foundation; Dr. Rebecca Martin, CDC Acting Director Center for Global Health; Dr. Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, WHO Director Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals; and Mr. Henri Van Den Hombergh, UNICEF Chief Immunization Unit.  The leadership was joined by Mr. Charles Graeber, a renowned journalist, for a panel discussion to share perspectives on progress to date in achieving a world without measles, rubella, and congenital rubella syndrome.  Additional highlights from Day One included a keynote address by Dr. Paul Offit on the personal efforts of Dr. Maurice Hilleman to develop the measles and rubella vaccines, presentations by WHO including the Director-General on the global situation analysis and examples from PAHO on how to achieve elimination goals.  Additionally, the founding partners launched a mid-term review at the meeting to assess how to accelerate activities to reach GVAP goals and held a consultation with the stakeholders attending the meeting.  The day closed with workshops on communicating for impact.

The second day of the meeting included an update from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance on their potential future support of measles and rubella activities.  While measles coverage has risen globally, it is not on track to meet the 2020 GVAP goals.  GAVI’s updated strategy will have a renewed focus on measles and rubella, with 2016-2020 indicators including MCV1.  This session was followed by a panel discussion of how to transition the polio infrastructure to support routine immunization as well as measles and rubella.  Lessons learned from programs in India and South Sudan were highlighted.  In a later session the economics of measles and rubella were discussed and noted that we globally spending $2.3 billion per year, not counting treatment, on programs focused on high control rather than eradication.  The final panel discussion of the day addressed how individuals can make a difference in eliminating measles and rubella with speakers from the Nepal Red Cross Society, [email protected], and ONE providing examples of individual efforts directly in the field, in partnership building, fundraising, and advocacy.  The meeting concluded with a call to action that it is time to make a recommitment to measles and rubella elimination.  We can celebrate our sustained successes, but at the same time we must redouble our efforts to achieve a world without measles, rubella, and congenital rubella syndrome.

The presentations from both days of the meeting can be found at this link.

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