You can help prevent measles deaths in Madagascar
The vaccine for measles has been available for 40 years, but for children who don't get it, measles is a swift, contagious, deadly disease. It spreads quickly, weakening children's immune systems so that a simple cold becomes a life-threatening situation.
Seven years ago, children in Madagascar were dying from measles at an unacceptable rate. But Madagascar has been expanding coverage for measles vaccination ever since 2004, when routine child immunization campaigns were deemed insufficient to keep the deadly disease at bay.
Since then, UNICEF has been supporting the government to complement regular child immunization campaigns with targeted drives for measles in order to reach the 90% coverage rate recommended by the World Health Organization. If 90% of children are immune, measles has little chance of spreading.
|US Fund for UNICEF|
|Children at a national immunization drive in 2007.|
The diligence has paid off--the incidence rate for measles among children in 2008 was just 0.23 cases per 100,000 children, down from 37 per 100,000 in 2003.
But today, those gains are threatened. There are measles outbreaks in Eastern and Southern Africa and a major national measles immunization campaign scheduled for 3 million children next month has lost the funding of the government, which is strapped for cash.
This has left UNICEF racing to secure the $600,000 needed to go ahead with the vaccination campaign. Generous donors worldwide have contributed over ¾ of the amount needed, but without another $120,000, the cold-chain system needed to protect the vaccines will not be available. Hundreds of thousands of vaccine risk going to waste.
You can help.Donate today to keep this leading, but preventable, cause of child deaths out of Madagascar.