V I S I O N A RY W O R K Lions Partner to Protect Millions against Measles by Christopher Bunch There’s strength in numbers. And progress, too. At the 96th International Convention in July in Hamburg, Germany, Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and the GAVI Alliance announced a partnership designed to pro-tect tens of millions of children in the world’s poorest coun-tries against measles and rubella. “As Lions, we are excited to continue our work in the fight against measles and rubella,” says LCIF Chairperson Wayne Madden. “Through our partnership with GAVI, we will focus on supporting routine immunization and strengthening health systems to benefit children in developing countries.” Lions will also raise $30 million and deploy its network of volunteers to improve access to vaccines through the GAVI Al-liance, a public-private partnership whose mission is to save children’s lives and protect people’s health by increasing access to immunization in the world’s poorest countries. The funds will be matched by the United Kingdom’s Department for In-ternational Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foun-dation, bringing the total to $60 million. “We are grateful for the continued and generous commit-ment of Lions Clubs International and its members to im-proving the health of the world’s poorest children,” says Bill Gates Sr., co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since 1968, LCIF has awarded more than $800 million in grants to support humanitarian projects including measles vaccination initiatives. Although Lions are extraordinary fundraisers, their true value is measured in something far more valuable than dollars: members. “Having 1.35 million members around the globe is in-credibly powerful because most of the work that GAVI does occurs on the ground in developing countries,” says David Ferreira, managing director for innovative finance at the GAVI Alliance. “We need help mobilizing mothers and fathers to get kids to immunizations and to spread the word about just how important immunization is. To have this partner that is so present and so committed is extraordinarily valuable.” Local Lions clubs and GAVI will work with ministries of health in developing countries to ensure children are vacci-nated against measles and rubella. Lions will also play a key role in social-mobilization efforts by working with local lead-ers, coordinating community-level publicity and serving as volunteers at vaccination centers. Additionally, they will work as community advocates by promoting vaccinations at the policy level. 46 LION NOVEMBER 2013 Lions in Kenya stand ready to comfort a child receiving a measles vaccination. Lions have recently participated in GAVI-supported vac-cination campaigns in Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Bangladesh, as well as campaigns in Malawi, Madagascar and Botswana. Lions are playing an important role in combating these deadly and debilitating diseases. Measles is a highly infectious disease that kills an esti-mated 432 people every day, mostly in developing countries, and leaves many young children vulnerable to serious health issues such as pneumonia and blindness. But measles can be prevented with a safe, inexpensive vaccine that costs around $1 per dose. GAVI provides both the measles and rubella vac-cines in a single shot. By 2020, more than 700 million children in 49 countries are expected to be immunized against measles and rubella through GAVI-supported campaigns. International partners such as LCIF, the Measles and Rubella Initiative, WHO, UNICEF, the Red Cross and countless others have all played a critical role in this global fight, but success will ultimately be achieved at the local level. “We really need people at the community level to get the job done,” says Matt Hanson, program officer in vaccine de-livery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “In the end, measles is a disease that happens at the community level.” And that’s where you’ll find Lions—donating, mobilizing their communities and fighting for a safer, healthier and brighter future for children who desperately need help. For information or to donate, go to www.lcif.org/measles. Watch a video on the new measles partnership.