Rubella and CRS Global Advocacy
Rubella, also known as German Measles, is an often mild disease whose symptoms can range from a fever and rash to signs too mild to detect. When contracted by a pregnant woman in her first 20 weeks, however, rubella can lead to Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) in the fetus, and the effects can be devastating. The disease can cause severe growth and mental retardation, deafness and other developmental problems when the fetus becomes infected. Though the burden of CRS is not well documented, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in developing countries alone 100,000 cases of CRS occur each year.
Rubella, and thus CRS, is vaccine preventable, and the disease has been eliminated in the Americas. Sabin is working to help eradicate rubella globally through increasing awareness of the burden of rubella and CRS. Sabin, together with the March of Dimes, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is undertaking a series of advocacy activities to promote prevention of rubella and CRS throughout the world.
Activities have included a conference held in Rome, Italy, in February 2013. More than 150 people from 47 countries came together in Rome to review the latest developments in the fight against rubella and CRS in Europe. In 2016, Sabin continued the conversation at a meeting in Siena, Italy, where 46 representatives from 23 countries gathered to identify challenges and best practices for achieving high vaccination coverage for measles and rubella among older children and adults.
Additionally, Sabin joined the Measles and Rubella Initiative in 2012. Led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the CDC, UNICEF and WHO, the goal of the Initiative is to eliminate measles and rubella in at least five of the six World Health Organization Regions by 2020. As a part of the Measles and Rubella Initiative, Sabin continues to advocate policies and resources that support effective measles and rubella immunization programs and practices.