“Church Supplies $3 Million and Other Resources to Fight Measles in Africa,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 123–24
To combat a disease that in some parts of the world is almost eradicated while in other parts still commonly kills children, the Church has joined an effort to immunize millions of children in Africa against measles. Church officials announced their support at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on 17 September 2003.
Offering both financial aid and logistical support, the Church pledged U.S. $3 million over the next three years and will provide local volunteers and facilities to the Measles Initiative to help stem the tide of measles in Africa.
With the vaccine costing less than U.S. $1 per child, “our contribution alone will provide vaccine for three million children. What a marvelous and wonderful thing that is,” President Gordon B. Hinckley stated during the Saturday morning session of the October 2003 general conference.
The Measles Initiative is a five-year effort to vaccinate 200 million children in Africa. Measles is the leading cause of blindness and the leading vaccine-preventable cause of death in Africa. The initiative will prevent an estimated 1.2 million measles deaths.
Involved in the initiative are the American Red Cross, United Nations Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United Nations Children’s Fund, World Health Organization, and Pan American Health Organization, as well as international Red Cross and Red Crescent offices and governments of affected nations.
“The Church has once again illustrated its significant commitment to ending suffering on a worldwide basis,” said Marsha J. Evans, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, in accepting the first installment of the gift. “We cannot express our enormous gratitude.”
Ms. Evans noted that the Church has worked extensively with the Red Cross in other relief efforts, including an additional U.S. $2 million donated in recent years for other Red Cross efforts and assistance with a Red Cross vaccination campaign in Zambia in June.
“We are delighted to partner with the Red Cross,” Presiding Bishop H. David Burton told the Deseret News. “Over the years we’ve done so on a number of projects, and we’re eager to continue that relationship.”
In his Saturday morning general conference address, President Hinckley noted that the money for the measles donation did not come from tithing funds. “It came from contributions of the faithful to the humanitarian work of the Church,” he said.
The Church also pledged logistical support to the initiative. Local Church members will serve as volunteers, and meetinghouses will be made available.
“To be able to prevent a child from dying, to be able to help so many so easily—now what could be better than that?” said Harold C. Brown, managing director of the Church’s Welfare and Humanitarian Services Department, who presented the donation in behalf of the Church.