Measles vaccine support

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Gavi is a partner of the Measles & Rubella Initiative

Measles Vaccination Campaign

Hanoi, Vietnam. Tuoi Tho Kindergarten. Measles Vaccination Campaign. Photo/Jeff Holt. 30 October 2010

Around the world, measles deaths fell by 78% between 2000 and 2008, from an estimated 750,000 to 164,000 per year, according to the Measles & Rubella Initiative, a global partnership committed to ensuring no child dies from measles or is born with congenital rubella syndrome.

In Africa, measles deaths decreased an estimated 92% between 2000 and 2008.

Investment cases

Through the investment cases from 2004-2008, the Vaccine Alliance has provided 28% of the funding (US$ 176 million) for the Measles Initiative over this time period.

The risk of resurgence of measles in Africa is high, reinforcing the importance of timely measles campaigns and stronger routine immunisation services.

Measles rubella

By 2020, over 700 million children in 49 countries between 9 months and 14 years of age are expected to be immunised against measles rubella with Gavi support. Investing in the combined measles-rubella vaccine will significantly reduce measles outbreaks and deaths.

Measles kills an estimated 450 people every day, and are entirely preventable with immunisation

Before 2001, more than 750,000 children died every year from measles, a highly contagious virus, whose symptoms include a high fever, severe skin rash, and a cough.

In developing countries, measles kills about 5% of children who catch it, though this rate may be as high as 25% among the displaced, malnourished, or those with poor access to health care. By weakening the immune system, measles can also lead to other health problems such as pneumonia, blindness, diarrhoea, and encephalitis.

Measles & Rubella Initiative

Since then, the number of measles deaths has come down significantly, helped by the Measles & Rubella Initiative (formerly known as Measles Initiative), a global partnership committed to ensuring no child dies from measles or is born with congenital rubella syndrome.

According to the Measles & Rubella Initiative, measles still kills an estimated 164,000 people each year – mostly children less than five years of age – or about 450 people every day.

Because it is so contagious, measles remains a significant threat to child health even in those areas where the rates of measles are reduced.

Preventable with immunisation

Measles is entirely preventable with immunisation, using a safe, effective and relatively inexpensive vaccine that has existed for almost half a century.

In 2008, an estimated three out of four measles deaths occurred in India, according to the Measles & Rubella Initiative.

Each child should be reached with two doses of the measles vaccine. The second dose can be given through routine immunisation programmes or Supplementary immunization activities (catch-up campaigns).

Gavi has helped protect against measles through the Measles Initiative and new vaccine support

Gavi has helped protect against measles in four main ways:

1. Measles Initiative

The first way is direct support for the Measles Initiative, a global partnership committed to ensuring no child dies from measles or is born with congenital rubella syndrome.

Between 2004 and 2008, Gavi contributed US$ 176 million to the Measles Initiative. Funds for the project have been used to purchase measles vaccine, syringes, and other supplies as well as operational costs.

2. Measles outbreak response

The second way is by providing US$ 55 million to the Measles & Rubella Initiative until 2017 for the measles outbreak response in Gavi-eligible countries.

3. Measles second dose

Thirdly, countries can apply and receive support to provide children with a second opportunity for measles vaccination (“measles second dose”) through the new vaccine support (NVS) window.

Providing a second opportunity for measles vaccination is a very powerful tool to reach children who missed the first opportunity and to produce immunity in the small number of persons who failed to develop measles immunity after the first dose.

Initially, two countries, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Vietnam, applied for support and were approved for a total of US$ 4.2 million from Gavi between 2007 and 2011. To date, ten additional countries have been approved for support: Bangladesh, Burundi, Cambodia, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Myanmar, São Tomé , Tanzania and Zambia. 

4. Supplementary immunisation activities

Gavi will be providing support to six countries (Afghanistan, Chad, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Pakistan) at high risk of measles oubreaks through Supplementary immunisation activities (SIAs).

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