GAVI welcomes Canada's support for measles vaccines

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada announces US$ 20 million for measles prevention and control

GENEVA, 9 October 2013 – GAVI welcomes Canada’s US$ 20 million pledge to accelerate access to measles vaccines. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada during the UN General Assembly in New York. US$ 20 million will be invested in GAVI’s measles programme to help increase the number of children immunised against this deadly disease. The pledge is part of Canada's commitment to the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health launched by G8 partners at the Muskoka Summit in 2010.

Measles is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease which causes about 430 child deaths every day, mainly in developing countries. It remains an important cause of death, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. The six countries covered under Canada’s support are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Ethiopia.

“We are very grateful to Canada for its commitment,” said GAVI CEO Dr Seth Berkley. “As a leader of the Muskoka Initiative for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, Canada’s support paves the way for the introduction of the combined measles-rubella vaccine that will significantly improve the health of mothers and children.”

“Canada is proud to partner with GAVI to accelerate the introduction of life-saving vaccines for the world’s poorest countries,” said the Honourable Christian Paradis, Canadian Minister of International Development. “Canada has been a GAVI donor since 2002 and is a founding member of the Pneumococcal Advance Market Commitment (AMC).”

The combined measles-rubella (MR) vaccine is expected to be rolled out with GAVI support in 49 countries by 2020, aiming to vaccinate more than 700 million children under 15 years of age.

Rubella also known as “German measles”, is also very contagious but causes relatively mild disease in children, except for pregnant women who contract the virus. More than 100,000 children are born with the birth defects, known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS), each year – of which 90,000 live in GAVI eligible countries.

“This announcement, one month before GAVI’s Mid-Term Review in Stockholm, shows strong support for GAVI’s work, which has helped save over five million lives since 2000,” said Dr Berkley.

On 30 October, GAVI will bring together more than 150 partners in Stockholm, including donors, implementing countries, the private sector, civil society and vaccine manufacturers. The aim is to take stock of the progress the Alliance has made in reaching its goals halfway through its five-year strategic plan (2011-2015), as agreed with donors when they committed US$ 7.4 billion to GAVI in June 2011.

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