Lions Club International partners with GAVI Alliance to fight measles

Lions Club International, a service club organization, and the GAVI Alliance, a public-private partnership, announced a new collaboration on Monday meant to protect tens of millions of children in the poorest countries against measles.

As part of the partnership, Lions Clubs will deploy its network of 1.35 million volunteers to raise $30 million and improve access to vaccines through the GAVI Alliance. The funds raised will be matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.K. Department for International Development to bring the total to $60 million.

The announcement of the new partnership was made at the Lions Clubs' 96th annual convention in Hamburg, Germany.

"Lions Clubs International and its members are excited to continue our commitment to the fight against measles and rubella," Wing-Kun Tam, the foundation chair of Lions Clubs International, said. "Through our joint efforts with GAVI and other partners, we will increase access to quality immunization services at every level - globally, nationally and locally - to benefit children in developing countries."

The two organizations will work with ministries of health in developing countries to make sure children are vaccinated against measles and rubella. Lions Clubs committed to raising the $30 million for GAVI immunization programs by 2017.

"This new partnership will bring us another step closer to effectively tackling measles and rubella, two serious infectious diseases," Seth Berkley, the CEO of the GAVI Alliance, said. "Teaming up with the vast network of Lions Clubs worldwide will allow GAVI to immunize more children with the measles-rubella vaccine, ultimately reducing the number of measles deaths and cases of congenital rubella syndrome."

According to the World Health Organization, measles kills an estimated 430 people around the world each day. With help from the GAVI-Lions Clubs partnership, more than 700 million children in 49 countries are expected to be immunized against measles and rubella by 2020.