Measles Initiative hopes to raise awareness of children’s plight

A fund-raising campaign for measles relief was launched as International Week [I-Week] began last Thursday.

Measles Initiative Week, in conjunction with the UM Red Cross, seeks to raise awareness for the children in Africa. Shantanu Neravetla, chair of the Measles Initiative, promoted the campaign during high school, and hopes to bring it to a new level of success at UM.

Measles kills 450,000 African children each year, making it more deadly than tuberculosis, malaria, AIDS, or malnutrition. The measles vaccination is the most cost effective public health intervention available for preventing deaths.

During I-Week, display boards will be set up in the Volunteer Services Center, the United Black Students office, and all of the residential colleges as posts for people to donate money. The organizations will compete in “vaccination wars”, in an attempt to raise money for the campaign.

Mark O’Connor, treasurer of UM Red Cross, describes the fund-raising activities as an “awesome way to help out the international community.”

The proceeds will be forwarded directly to the International Red Cross workers who travel to Africa and provide treatment. The participation of other organizations is crucial to the fund-raising efforts.

“I would love for other organizations to help out,” Neravetla said. “The more students who know about the cause, the greater the good it will do.”

The Measles Initiative is going national by participating in the Compete to Defeat Measles National College Competition, which is similar in concept to the vaccination wars on campus. Colleges around the nation are competing to raise as much money as possible for the purpose of saving lives. UM will be competing with schools including Duke University, UC Berkeley, and Johns Hopkins University. The school that raises the most money will have the opportunity to send students to the vaccination drives in Africa.

“One dollar can save a life,” Neravetla said. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”

For more information on the Measles Initiative, contact Shantanu Neravetla at

Camille Cohen can be contacted at

Cause-specific childhood deaths in Africa, equaling about 4.2 million.

1. Malaria (age 5 and under) – 14%
2. Measles (age 15 and under) – 11%
3. Injuries (all ages) – 11%
4. TB (all ages) – 9%
5. HIV – 8%
6. Malnutrition (all ages) – 4%