A study in The Lancet (free registration required) measures the success of a partnership to reduce measles in Africa, the Measles Initiative, started in 2001. Initial partners were the American Red Cross, the WHO, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Foundation, and UNICEF. Subsequently, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Church of Latterday Saints, and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Children (GAVI) have joined the partnership. Partnership funds permitted the financing of measles campaigns.
Between 2000 and June, 2003, 82·1 million children were targeted for vaccination during initial SIA [supplemental immunisation activities – ie campaigns] in 12 countries and follow-up SIA in seven countries. The average decline in the number of reported measles cases was 91%. In 17 of the 19 countries, measles case-based surveillance confirmed that transmission of measles virus, and therefore measles deaths, had been reduced to low or very low rates. The total estimated number of deaths averted in the year 2003 was 90 043. Between 2000 and 2003 in the African Region as a whole, we estimated that the percentage decline in annual measles deaths was around 20% (90 043 of 454 000).
Source: M Otten, R Kezaala, , A Fall, B Masresha, , R Martin, L Cairns, R Eggers, R Biellik, M Grabowsky, P Strebel, J-M Okwo-Bele and D Nshimirimana, "Public-health impact of accelerated measles control in the WHO African Region 2000–03". The Lancet Volume 366, Number 9488, 3 September 2005
Overall, the Measles Initiative has mobilized more than US $144 million and has helped 33 African countries to vaccinate more than 150 million children, saving more than 500,000 lives. It costs less than a dollar to vaccinate a child against measles.