Sustain awareness of measles in Africa

The immediate past District Governor of District 403-A2 of Lions Clubs International, Lion Gloria Esi Lassey, has stressed the need for parents to update themselves with the facts about measles to enable them to protect their children from the deadly disease.

She expressed concern about available statistics which indicate that despite the availability of safe and effective vaccines, measles remained one of the leading global causes of death among young children. 

Mrs Lassey said it was important for all stakeholders to intensify efforts at creating and sustaining awareness of measles, also known as morbilli, English measles or rubella, which is a viral infection of the respiratory system.

She was speaking in an exclusive interview concerning awareness in Africa of  the deadly measles disease with the Daily Graphic in Accra as part of activities marking this year’s World Measles Day, which is celebrated in the last week of April every year.

This year’s celebration is on the theme, “Measles: Know the risks, check your status, protect yourself”. It is being celebrated as part of the broad World Immunisation Week which seeks to promote one of the world’s most powerful tools for health – the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against diseases.

She recalled that immunisation was widely recognised as one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions ever introduced, adding that adolescents and adults can now be protected against life-threatening diseases such as influenza, meningitis and cancers (cervical and liver cancers).

The past governor recalled that Lions Clubs International and the GAVI Alliance last year announced a unique partnership designed to protect tens of millions of children in the world’s poorest countries against measles, a highly infectious disease that kills an estimated 430 people every day, mostly in developing countries.

Under the partnership, Mrs Lassey said, the Lions Clubs, the world’s largest service club organisation, had committed itself to raising US $30 million by 2017 when Lions Clubs would be celebrating its centenary. 

The funds raised by the Lions will be matched by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, bringing the total to US$ 60 million. 

Mrs Lassey pointed out that Lions Clubs and GAVI were working  with ministries of health in developing countries to ensure that children were vaccinated against measles/rubella. 

Lions Clubs International has 1.35 million members in more than 46,000 clubs serving communities in 207 countries and geographical areas around the globe. 

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