Measles is one of the most contagious diseases, infecting 90% of those unprotected to the virus. It currently infects over 6 million people annually and kills 300 children everyday. It weakens the immune system and causes secondary health problems like pneumonia, blindness, diarrhea and/or encephalitis and can lead to permanent disabilities, even after recovery. Rubella, while less infectious and less severe than measles, can cause fetal death, stillbirth or miscarriage, and Congenital Rubella Syndrome in infected pregnant women, where their children are born with birth defects like heart disease, deafness and blindness. Eradicating measles and rubella globally is a cooperative effort between the Measles and Rubella Initiative, the American Red Cross, the CDC, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Foundation and UNICEF. Since 2000, they have vaccinated 2.9 billion children in 88 countries and averted over 21 million deaths.
Many previously measles-free countries have been facing measles outbreaks between 2017 and 2019 and around 170 million children globally are still unprotected from measles and rubella. Globally, hundreds of thousands of children are dying annually from vaccine-preventable diseases. Eradicating measles and rubella plays a vital role in increasing child health and survival, especially in developing countries where many communities lack quality healthcare and medical facilities.
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The Measles & Rubella Initiative is a global partnership to lead and coordinate efforts to achieve a world without measles and rubella. The M&RI aims to reach the measles and rubella elimination goals of the Global Vaccine Action Plan by supporting countries to raise coverage of measles, rubella and other vaccines; fund, plan, implement and monitor quality supplementary campaigns; investigate outbreaks and provide technical and financial support for effective outbreak response, propose and participate in solutions to strengthen immunization delivery; and support a global laboratory network for measles and rubella.