New Partnership Announcement
The GAVI Alliance and Lions Clubs International announced a unique partnership at the Hamburg Convention that will help to protect tens of millions of children in the world’s poorest countries against measles, a highly infectious disease that kills an estimated 430 people every day, mostly in developing countries.
Under the partnership, Lions Clubs International will deploy its network of 1.35 million volunteers to raise US$30 million and to improve access to vaccines through the GAVI Alliance, a public-private partnership whose mission is to save children’s lives and protect people’s health by increasing access to immunization in the world’s poorest countries.
The funds raised by the Lions will be matched by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, bringing the total to US$60 million. The announcement was made at the Lions Clubs’ 96th annual convention in Hamburg, Germany.
A map that shows outbreaks of various diseases over the last three years, including measles, has been created by the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2011, there were measles outbreaks on every continent. View the measles map.
According to USAToday, most U.S. cases of the measles are imported by U.S. travelers who have not been vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that the Olympics in London, as well as the Euro 2012 soccer cup in Poland and Ukraine, will be huge draws for American travelers and will increase the risk for measles infection. The virus is much more prevalent in Europe, leading to 26,000 illnesses last year.
Currently, measles is on the rise in Europe, according to the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO). A WHO report showed that as of October 2011, more than 26,000 cases of measles and nine deaths have been reported this year in 36 countries in Europe. That's three times the number of cases from four years ago. Western European countries reported 83 percent of those cases. In the United States in 2011, more than 200 cases of the measles were reported — the highest number in 15 years, according to the CDC. Before routine vaccinations, the virus killed between 3,000 and 5,000 Americans each year.
The recent increase in measles is due mainly to low vaccination rates and lack of awareness about the disease. This outbreak in Europe has been linked to outbreaks in several other countries including Brazil, Canada and Australia. According to the CDC, the increase in measles cases and outbreaks underscores the need for high measles vaccine coverage, and the importance of prompt and appropriate public health response to measles cases and outbreaks.