Since the Church joined the Measles Initiative and Partnership in 2003, thousands of Church members have helped in the effort to eliminate the disease.
Approximately 56,000 Church members around the world have provided more than 600,000 hours of service in 32 countries in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.
A group of humanitarian organizations—the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization—founded the Measles Initiative and Partnership in 2001 with the goal of reducing the number of deaths due to measles worldwide by 90 percent by the end of 2010.
As part of the Church’s commitment to the initiative, which included a US $3 million donation, the First Presidency invited Church members in affected countries, under the direction of local priesthood and Relief Society leaders, to participate in helping to organize and publicize the vaccination campaigns.
Church members hand out information sheets, hang street posters and banners, help at vaccination posts, and develop radio and TV spots. One young returned missionary composed a musical jingle for the campaign in Madagascar. This jingle has been translated and sung in 28 languages on dozens of radio stations in most countries where the campaign has taken place.
Cape Verde, a string of islands a few hundred miles off the coast of western Africa, is one of the many countries where Church members volunteered. In the March 2009 campaign, members helped make possible the vaccinations of more than 50,000 children. More than 600 members in Cape Verde volunteered 4,200 hours to promote the campaign door-to-door.
From the beginning of the initiative in 2001 to December 2008, 600 million children and youth have been vaccinated in the target countries, resulting in a 74 percent decrease in measles deaths around the world and an 89 percent decrease in Africa alone. Deaths due to measles decreased from 750,000 in 2000 to 197,000 in 2007, bringing the world much closer to the United Nations’ goal of fewer than 100,000 deaths worldwide by the end of 2010.