Red Cross Honors Church for Measles Vaccination Aid
By Chad Phares, Church Magazines
Members of the First Presidency presented American Red Cross President and CEO Marsha J. Evans with a $1 million check on February 4 that will go to the Measles Initiative, a Red Cross vaccination program for children in Africa that is expected to save 1.2 million lives.
Out of gratitude for the donation, which was the second part of a $3 million total commitment by the Church, the Red Cross honored the Church with its highest financial honor, the American Red Cross Circle of Humanitarians award.
At a press conference, Ms. Evans presented Presiding Bishop H. David Burton with a framed replica of a New York Times article thanking the Red Cross's most important contributors.
“Thanks to donations from the public and generous philanthropic supporters, like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the American Red Cross is saving lives through this crucial public health initiative,” Ms. Evans said.
In the African countries most seriously plagued by measles, one in every 100 children dies from the disease. Those involved hope that the initiative can eliminate the disease from the continent.
Bishop Burton said the Church decided to take part in the program because the initiative is committed to helping others and also because the Church has a large population of members in Africa. He said participating in the initiative provides “the opportunity for many of our local congregations to volunteer and participate in the program.”
American Red Cross Senior Health Adviser Dr. Mark Grabowsky estimates that approximately 90 percent of all African children need to be immunized in order to eradicate the disease from Africa. By 2006, the Measles Initiative program is scheduled to have vaccinated more than 200 million children in Africa.
Since 1986, the Church has partnered with the American Red Cross, supporting domestic and international relief efforts and initiatives.
“We have a long, distinguished partnership with the American Red Cross,” Bishop Burton said. “It's a partnership we cherish.”
Among recent efforts, the Church and the American Red Cross have worked together in hurricane relief operations in the United States during August, September, and October of 2004.