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 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 included a conference held in Rome, Italy in February 2013. Over 150 people from 47 countries came together in Rome to review the latest developments in the fight against rubella and CRS in Europe.
Additionally, Sabin, along with the International Pediatric Association (IPA) is part of the Measles and Rubella Initiative. Led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the CDC, UNICEF and WHO, the goal of the Initiative is to reduce global measles mortality by 95 percent by 2015 and eliminate measles and rubella in at least five of the six World Health Organization Regions by 2020. By joining the Measles and Rubella Initiative, Sabin will continue to advocate policies and resources that support effective measles and rubella immunization programs and practices.