Roughly 410,000 children under the age of 5 die each
year from measles, and many more suffer health
complications caused by the disease, including pneumonia,
encephalitis and corneal scarring, which can lead to
While measles has been virtually eliminated in the
Western Hemisphere, millions of children in developing
nations remain at risk from the contagious disease that can
be prevented with a simple and inexpensive vaccination.
Quite literally, a shot that costs less than $1 can save a
A group of Johns Hopkins undergraduates has heard the
call and wants to save 4,000 lives — and perhaps many
The Johns Hopkins Measles Initiative, founded this
year, is a student-led effort that seeks to raise $4,000
that will be donated to the international Measles
Initiative, a partnership of the American Red Cross, U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United Nations
Foundation, UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
Founded in 2001, the Measles Initiative has to date
helped vaccinate 217 million children in more than 44
countries, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast
Asia. The effort seems to be working. Since 1999, measles
cases and deaths in Africa have dropped by 60 percent, and
globally measles deaths have dropped by 48 percent from
871,000 in 1999 to an estimated 454,000 in 2004. The
initiative's goal is to reduce measles deaths by 90 percent
Danielle Wray, co-founder of the Johns Hopkins Measles
Initiative and a sophomore public health major, said that
last year she became aware of this international public
health effort and wanted to do her part.
"I was shocked by the number [of deaths], and from
something as simple as measles, which barely exists in the
United States," Wray said. "I thought this is something we
should be doing more about."
The fund-raising effort kicks off today outside the
Newton H. White Jr. Athletic Center, where student
volunteers will staff a table to hand out literature and
accept donations. The campaign, which will run through the
rest of the semester, will continue to have a visible
presence in and around the Athletic Center, as the group
has joined up with the Athletic Department and plans to set
up information tables at varsity lacrosse games and other
Johns Hopkins spring sporting events.
In addition, the 40-member group plans to set up
tables in the dining halls during a week in March and will
have a booth at Spring Fair. The initiative will also host
several events during the semester, including a
presentation by measles expert William Moss, an associate
epidemiology at the
School of Public Health, on March 6 in Mudd Auditorium,
and an a cappella concert featuring the
Niblets on April 19 in Shriver Hall. The times will be
To help in its efforts, the Johns Hopkins Measles
Initiative has enlisted the support of other students
groups, including Alpha Phi Omega, the Public Health
Student Forum, Critical Mass and the Johns Hopkins chapter
of the Red Cross.
The money raised will primarily go to efforts to help
children in Asia, where more vaccinations are desperately
needed, according to Wray.
"Our slogan is '$1 saves one life,' because for the
children in Asia, $1 is the difference between becoming
vaccinated for measles or not," Wray said.
The group chose the $4,000 goal to roughly represent
the size of the undergraduate student body at Johns
Wray said that the group members are energized and
focused on getting the message out and reaching their goal
— but they don't want to stop there.
"We will try to make this a recurring event," she
said. "Next year we want to involve other area schools and
maybe start up a healthy competition where we try to
outraise each other. In any case, we want to continue to
raise awareness and more money after this initial campaign
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