How Lions worldwide are uniting against a killer disease

Every year, a disaster quietly strikes thousands of families.    While it may not be mentioned on the news or in your local paper but  this disaster takes the lives of 450 children daily.    Measles is one of the world's most contagious diseases, kills thousands of children each year but it is easily prevented by a simple and inexpensive vaccine.

Deaths associated with measles are a disaster that should never happen.  Even so, the World Health Organisation estimates that unless vaccination efforts are intensified, the number of children who suffer the blindness, hearing loss, brain damage and death caused by measles could increase considerably over the coming years.    For less than £1, a child can be immunised against measles for life, making vaccine one of the most cost-effective health interventions available and in 2010 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) with a grant to help it combat this horrendous disease. 

The money was initially used by Lions to support the work of the international charity, Measles Initiative, a branch of the United Nations Foundation.   Measles Initiative felt that the Lions organisation, being locally based in many areas where the illness was rife,  could provide an extremely valuable combination of social mobilisation and organisational capability along with political advocacy which complimented its other partner organizational activities.     

The results of this collaboration were outstanding.  In one short year of this Lions and LCIF supported immunisation and education programme, nearly 41 million children were given protection for life via a simple jab.   Although great success had been achieved, our work had only just begun.

In October, 2011, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation called on Lions to rise to a new challenge - Raise £10m by June 30th 2013 to provide one shot of vaccine for each of 10 million children and give each one the chance to live a healthy life.   The Proposal was simple - the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would match Lions fundraising on the basis of £1 for every £2 which Lions manaage to raise.   

Lions throughout the world are now responding to the challenge and a wide range of different fundraising initiatives are being put in place by clubs as we head towards raising the funds necessary to maximise the income from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Clubs in the UK are actively supporting this initiative and if you wish to add your own contribution, please simply visit our International appeals website to make a donation.    Use the drop down menu to select the Measles Initiative and your donation will immediately attract an extra 50% thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates matching donation.

If you prefer to make your donation in cash locally, simply go to our contact page and drop us a note with your name, address and phone number and one of our members will ring you before calling to pick it up.

It is all too easy for us in the UK to consider that measles is simply an irritant and a minor condition but even here, children who contract the illness risk being left with everlasting and devastating effects of their encounter with measles.   Join Lions as they work to eradicate the disease and help children gain an lifelasting immunity via our Measles Initiative.

At our December 2017 meeting, the club agreed to make a donation to the campaign and £500 (£750 with the added value of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/British Government donation) was authorised and by the time you read this article, will have been used to help protect vulnerable children from measles.