Measles and Other Childhood Diseases

The so-called childhood diseases of measles, rubella, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, and diphtheria are responsible for several hundred thousand deaths per year. Fortunately, all of these diseases are preventable through inexpensive vaccines.

Very recently, there has been great success with measles vaccinations. Since 2001, the Measles & Rubella Initiative, an international partnership backed by a number of organizations and individuals, has vaccinated over a billion children in poor countries. This has cut the number of measles deaths by some 80-90%.

At a cost of less than $1 per vaccination, this program shows how a relatively small amount of funding can make a huge difference in lives saved. There is no reason that this type of program cannot be extended to vaccinate all of the children who need it, provided enough funding is available.

Sources: UNICEF, American Red Cross, Gates Foundation, World Health Organization (WHO).

Note: The map display above is representational only and does not show the names and faces of real people. The photographs are computer composites of multiple individuals.