The Lions-Measles Initiative pilot program is a partner in the fight against measles and is targeting vaccinating 41 million children in Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mali and Nigeria. Lions and Lions Clubs International Foundation are aiming to vaccinate a target of at least 95 percent of children ages 9 to 47 months old.
The Foundation is partnering with the Measles Initiative to support a world-wide effort to protect children from measles and strengthen routine immunization services. The partnership program is jointly funded by LCIF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Vaccination campaigns in Ethiopia and Madagascar in October targeted to vaccinate more than 10 million children. Vaccination campaigns will launch in northern Nigeria in January and southern Nigeria and Mali in February and aim to vaccinate an additional 31 million children.
“At a health center in a rural village in Madagascar, I met Marie Louise Razafindrazanana, who brought her nine-month old son, Patrick, to be vaccinated. She knew all too well the dangers of measles, as she lost her daughter to the disease,” said Eberhard J. Wirfs, Chairperson of Lions Clubs International Foundation. “But these mothers know that we Lions are giving their children hope for a long, healthy life.”
Lions have long been committed to improving health for children and preventing blindness on a global scale. Involvement from Lions in the pilot program includes advocacy at all levels, promotion of vaccination activities and financial support. Lions’ leadership teams in the four pilot countries are working closely with Ministries of Health and other Measles Initiative partners.
Measles is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in children. Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can lead to blindness or death in children. Although vaccinations are readily available in developed countries, the disease remains a heavy public health burden in the developing world. Experts estimate that over the next three years, 1.7 million children will likely die from this disease. The disease is also a major cause of preventable blindness, particularly among children, affecting the same underserved populations.
The Measles Initiative is a long-term partnership among world leaders in public health that aims to reduce measles mortality and morbidity globally. UNICEF, WHO, U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Red Cross, and the United Nations Foundation are among the organizations contributing to these efforts. This global partnership has supported the vaccination of more than 700 million children since 2001.
Through combined efforts, the impact made in the fight against measles will greatly increase. As a result, more people without access to healthcare will be vaccinated against this infectious and deadly disease and higher numbers of measles-free communities will exist worldwide.