Lions Clubs and GAVI Alliance bond in Geneva

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Representatives of the Lions Clubs International visit the GAVI Secretariat to kickstart partnership against measles and rubella

Deputy CEO Helen Evans with Dr Tebebe Yemane-Berhan

Deputy CEO Helen Evans with Dr Tebebe Yemane-Berhan, Lions Clubs representative from Ethiopia. © 2013/Ilse Viveros/GAVI

Geneva, 6 August 2013 – GAVI Deputy CEO Helen Evans welcomed an official visit by the Lions Clubs International to GAVI headquarters on Tuesday – the first since the two organisations announced a unique partnership designed to protect millions of children against measles and rubella (German measles).

“It’s our first opportunity to learn about each other’s work, build awareness and discuss how to move forward on this incredibly important partnership,” said Helen Evans in her opening address. 

The Lions Clubs' representatives attending the meeting were Chris Plunkett, development specialist for Africa and South Asia, Benjamin Futransky, assistant manager for humanitarian programmes, Mama Tapo from Mali, Dr Tebebe Yemane-Berhan from Ethiopia and Shezan Luhar from Kenya.

Getting to know each other

The two-day visit, described as a ‘getting to know each other’ session, explored how the Lions Club can work with Ministries of Health in developing countries and GAVI to ensure children are vaccinated against measles and rubella. 

GAVI will be launching the single shot measles and rubella vaccine in six countries this year, increasing to 49 countries by 2020.

Lions Clubs plan to draw on their global network of 1.35 million on-the-ground members to work with local leaders to raise awareness of measles-rubella vaccination, coordinating community–level publicity and serving as volunteers at vaccination centres.

Extensive experience

By providing an average 30 million hours of community service per year globally across 208 countries, the Lions Clubs have extensive experience in disaster relief and development work. They have partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the Measles and Rubella Initiative to fight measles since 2010. 

“Our efforts in campaigning for measles vaccination have been a big part of our social mobilisation work around immunisation. Lions Clubs' members worked within their communities to raise awareness.  We now hope to repeat this experience in close collaboration with GAVI for measles and rubella vaccine introductions,” said Benjamin Futransky.

Matching Fund partnership

Under its partnership with GAVI, the Lions Clubs – the world’s largest service club organisation – aims to raise US$30 million and to improve access to vaccines through GAVI in developing countries.

The funds raised will be matched by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and BMGF, bringing the total to US$ 60 million. The announcement was made at the Lions Clubs' annual convention in Hamburg, Germany last month.

Routine immunisation

“What we would like to do is get to a point where routine immunisation in each country is strengthened so that children get their measles and rubella injections on their routine schedule and don’t have a need for intense campaigns,” said Helen Evans.

“Together, we can work to save many more children from these vaccine-preventable diseases.”

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