WHO/Europe teams up with civil society to promote local measles and rubella elimination efforts

Lions Clubs International

(From left) Mr Barry Palmer, Chair of Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), Dr Abigail Shefer, WHO/Europe, and Dr Louis Cooper, International Pediatric Association, at the 2014 Lions Clubs Europa Forum in Birmingham, United Kingdom, 31 October 2014

Despite substantial progress made in reducing incidence of measles and rubella in recent decades, outbreaks continue in the Region and threaten its 2015 target for elimination. To stop circulation of these viruses, urgent action is needed at regional, national and local levels aimed at reaching very high immunization coverage and population immunity in all Member States.

As part of its “Package for accelerated action” towards measles and rubella elimination, WHO/Europe is reaching out to international associations of health care professionals and service clubs that can promote local action through their extensive networks in the European Region. 

Lions Club International

At the 2014 Europa Forum of Lions Clubs International on 30 October to 2 November 2014 in Birmingham, United Kingdom, representatives of WHO/Europe, the International Pediatric Association and others met with Lions Club leaders to explore ideas for collaboration. Lions Clubs International has already been engaged in this effort through its Measles Initiative and other projects and campaigns that mobilize volunteers and resources to promote positive change.

Dr Abigail Shefer of WHO/Europe presented the status of measles and rubella elimination in the Region and outlined the challenges faced by countries in reaching and maintaining sufficiently high routine immunization rates (above 95%). 

Opportunities for collaboration discussed at the Europa Forum included:  

  • political advocacy
  • fundraising
  • dissemination of vaccine information to underimmunized groups
  • raising parents’ awareness of the importance of immunization.