World Health Assembly endorses new GVAP for measles and rubella

The 194 countries that make up the World Health Assembly resolved their commitment to meeting measles and rubella elimination goals on Friday by creating a new Global Vaccine Actions Plan.

The ultimate goal of the GVAP is to prevent more than 20 million deaths in the next decade by increasing vaccination access. The Measles & Rubella Initiative welcomed the WHA's commitment to such life-preserving goals.

"Today 194 countries have made a fundamental commitment to bring the benefit of vaccination to every person, no matter who they are or where they live," Andrea Gay, the executive director of Children's Health at the U.N. Foundation, said. "This commitment includes eliminating measles and rubella from most of the world by 2020 using proven, cost effective vaccination strategies. The Measles & Rubella Initiative looks forward to working with priority countries and donors to deliver on this global, life-saving commitment."

Efforts to increase vaccinations in children led to a 74 percent decrease in worldwide measles-related deaths to 139,000 between 2000 and 2010. Priority geographic areas for increased vaccination now include sub-Saharan Africa and India. The initiative recently launched its new Global Measles & Rubella Strategic Plan 2012-2020. Its new measles surveillance system can provide support to achieving the goals of the new GVAP.

"Where there are measles outbreaks we know that routine immunization coverage is simply not high enough," Rebecca Martin, the director of the Global Immunization Division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said. "Surveillance, including the measles laboratory networks can flag the areas where efforts to reach communities with vaccine must be redoubled. This kind of collaboration will reap the full benefits of vaccination everywhere and help the world reduce child deaths to the levels promised through Millennium Development Goal 4."

The Measles & Rubella Initiative is led by the United Nations Foundation, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the American Red Cross.