After an update from WHO in November 2022 that almost 40 million children are “dangerously susceptible” to measles, the Measles and Rubella Initiative (M&RI) released a statement on the future of the fight. Founded in 2001 as the Measles Initiative, it was expanded to include rubella elimination in 2012.  

The founding partners are the American Red Cross, US CDC, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF, and WHO. It also involves the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi. The Initiative is part of the Immunisation Agenda 2030 (IA2030).  

Huge strides 

The founding partners suggest that since the foundation and expansion of the initiative, “huge strides have been made”. An estimated 5 million lives have been saved through the delivery of vaccines to children across the world, and more than $1.2 billion has been invested in “control activities” in partnership with Gavi and the Gates Foundation.  

The statement indicates that from 2000 to 2021, the annual number of estimated measles deaths decreased 83%, from 761,000 to 128,000. The goal is to save “another 50 million lives” by the end of 2030, with measles immunisation contributing heavily to this.  

Strategic Framework 

The founding partners have adopted a Measles and Rubella Strategic Framework 2030, “fully aligned with IA2030”, to “maximise the lifesaving impact of vaccines”. This Framework envisions “a world free from measles and rubella” with the ambition of achieving and sustaining regional elimination goals.  

After a consultation process to “fully integrate the strategy, coordination, and action” with the IA2030 strategy and partnership process, the “newly revitalised” partnership will be called the IA2030 Measles and Rubella Partnership (M&RP). The membership includes the original founders, Gavi, and the Gates Foundation.  

This is described as “opportune” in the context of the “worst continued backsliding in global immunisation coverage in 30 years”. This is largely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and “related disruptions”.  

“We need to work more closely than ever before to address the nearly 40 per cent increase in the number of unvaccinated children.”  

For more discussion on partnering to overcome routine immunisation challenges, come to the World Vaccine Congress in Washington this April.