June 14, 2012

The Sabin Vaccine Institute, the International Pediatric Association (IPA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently became partners in a joint effort to control and eliminate measles and rubella worldwide.

Since 2001, the Measles Initiative has supported developing countries to vaccinate over 1 billion children against measles. A year after the WHO recommended that rubella be added to the massive global effort, now the Measles and Rubella Initiative, partners have committed to the new Global Measles and Rubella Strategic Plan. The plan presents a five-pronged strategy to reduce global measles mortality by 95% by 2015 compared with 2000 levels and to achieve measles and rubella elimination in at least five WHO regions by 2020.

Many high-income countries already offer routine immunization for both measles and rubella through the use of combined measles-rubella or measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Under the new strategy, 62 countries currently not using rubella vaccine are encouraged to use their measles vaccination delivery system to introduce rubella vaccine into their national immunization schedule. The plan also addresses the need to reach the estimated 19 million infants a year ― mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia ― who aren’t receiving either vaccine.

“With recent commitments from GAVI and the inclusion of Measles & Rubella in the Global Vaccine Action Plan, now is the time to eliminate these diseases. Sabin is proud to join the Measles-Rubella Initiative along with the IPA and AAP in order to work together toward the elimination goals that have been set,” said Ciro de Quadros, Executive Vice President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute.

Sabin carries out advocacy activities in Asia, Africa and Europe related to the prevention of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome. 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.

About measles and rubella
Measles is one of the most infectious diseases known to humankind and an important cause of death and disability among children worldwide. Those unvaccinated against the disease are at risk of severe health complications such as pneumonia, diarrhea, encephalitis (a dangerous infection of the brain causing inflammation) and blindness. The disease can be fatal. The vast majority of measles deaths occur in developing countries.

Rubella, transmitted through airborne droplets, is generally a mild illness. But when a pregnant woman becomes infected, particularly during the first trimester of pregnancy, serious consequences can occur including miscarriages, still births, and infants born with birth defects known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS). The most common congenital defects include lifelong heart problems, deafness or blindness (cataracts). An estimated 112 000 cases of CRS occur each year and are preventable through vaccination.

The Measles and Rubella Initiative is led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Their joint news release provides more information about the burden of measles and rubella and the strategies employed by the new Global Measles and Rubella Strategic Plan.

AAP also released an article describing the plan.

Media Contact
Johanna Harvey, Communications Officer