“Aid Organizations Winning Measles Battle,” Liahona, June 2009, N3
Measles deaths worldwide decreased by 74 percent from 2000 to 2007, according to health and relief organizations fighting the disease. The number of deaths dropped from 750,000 in 2000 to 197,000 in 2008. The significant decrease in measles deaths was due to extensive vaccination efforts.
The Measles Initiative is behind the vaccination effort that has saved millions of lives. The initiative is led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is also a partner.
“It is gratifying to know that, due to the generous donations of time and means of selfless individuals, millions of lives have been saved,” said Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop of the Church. “The Church praises the work that has been done by all organizations involved to eradicate measles and is proud to be a partner in this effort.”
The Church first became involved in the measles campaign in 2003. Using 54,784 Latter-day Saint volunteers, the Church has contributed to measles campaigns in 28 countries. In total, 189,261,345 children have been vaccinated in the campaigns where Church members participated, according to Church Welfare Services. The Church has also donated millions of dollars to the effort.
“We have provided financial support, but even more important, we’ve had thousands of members of the Church involved in helping with these campaigns,” said Garry Flake of Church Welfare Services.
The United Nations’ goal is to reduce measles deaths by 90 percent from 2000 to 2010. The Church will continue to be a partner in helping to meet that goal.