Many Americans consider the Red Cross to be the people who show up when there is an emergency, or the people who do the blood drives. While it’s true that the Red Cross does those things, and these things are important for our community, the Red Cross does so much more than that. The Red Cross provides many services to children. They give classes to educate young children on safety issues, provide psychological help for children after disasters, and have programs made especially for children. In some places around the world the Red Cross provides medical care to children where it otherwise may not be available. For instance, in Malawi, the Red Cross is helping to wipe out measles by vaccinating children. In honor of today being World Health Day we want to share some important Red Cross work from around the globe.
The measles vaccine is estimated to prevent 1 million deaths per year, and this number will continue to increase as more people receive the vaccine. In the United States, measles is uncommon, with few outbreaks. Some people have no idea what measles is, or know anyone who has had measles in their lifetime. In fact, young doctors sometimes do not recognize measles in a patient, as they have never before encountered a case of measles in their career. Unfortunately, not all countries are like this. In other parts of the world, measles occurs commonly and sickens many children. For this reason, the World Health Organization (WHO), has goals set for measles eradication. Measles is a leading killer of children throughout the world, and around 430 people die each day from measles, and those deaths were mainly among children under age 5. The Measles & Rubella Initiative hopes to reduce measles deaths by 95% by 2015 (compared to the deaths in 2000) and to eliminate measles and rubella entirely in at least 5 of the 6 WHO regions by the year 2020.
As the measles vaccine becomes available in areas where it was not previously possible to obtain, the deaths from measles has dropped significantly, a reduction of 71%. In Malawi, the American Red Cross, along with our Measles & Rubella Initiative partners, vaccinated more than 2.5 million children. This vaccine costs just $1, and can save a life. Here, you can see information and pictures regarding the lifesaving work that the Red Cross and the Measles & Rubella Initiative workers did in Malawi.
Donate to the American Red Cross to help improve the lives of children around the world. And keep in mind that even a single dollar can make a huge difference in the life of a child.
Story by: Breana Clark, American Red Cross Communication Intern