A highly contagious disease that kills tens of thousands of children every year, measles can cause lifelong disabilities — including blindness, deafness and even permanent brain injury — and costs the global economy millions of dollars annually in medical expenses and lost productivity.
Now an alarming surge in measles cases is threatening children worldwide, with devastating outbreaks in all regions. There were 690,000 cases of measles in the first 11 months of 2019 — up more than 200 percent from the same period in 2018. Of the more than 140,000 people who died from measles in 2018, most were children under age 5.
Over the last 20 years, UNICEF and its partners have pursued an ambitious initiative to work with governments and communities to carry out mass vaccination campaigns and disease surveillance around the world. In the first eight months of 2019, UNICEF and partners vaccinated 28.9 million children against measles.
"The fact that any child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease like measles is frankly an outrage and a collective failure to protect the world's most vulnerable children," said Dr. Tedrom Adhanom Ghebreysus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. "To save lives, we must ensure everyone can benefit from vaccines — which means investing in immunization and quality health care as a right for all."
A measles vaccine can cost as little as 30 cents per dose. Just 65 cents can provide a child one dose of a vaccine for measles and rubella. Every donation counts.
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