Measles Initiative

Measles Initiative has declined to participate in our review process at this time.

More information:


Published: 2010; Updated: August 2011

We investigated the Measles Initiative because it seeks to expand access to measles vaccines, which has been found to be a proven, cost-effective method for saving lives in the developing world (more at our full report on expanding immunization coverage).

We reviewed the information available on the Measles Initiative's website and contacted it to discuss our remaining questions. In September 2010, the Measles Initiative informed us that it did not have time to participate in the evaluation.1 We contacted Measles Initiative again in August 2011 and received the same reply.2 We did not continue with our evaluation process.

We do not have specifics on how the Measles Initiative spends the funds it receives or on what impact these activities would likely have. Therefore, we cannot confidently recommend the Measles Initative to donors.

What do they do?

The Measles Initiative appears to be composed of partner organizations, and we are unclear what the role of the Measles Initiative itself is.

According to its website, the Measles Initiative "provides technical and financial support to governments and communities on vaccination campaigns and disease surveillance worldwide."3 More specifically, it appears that the Measles Initiative, through its partner organizations, supports vaccination efforts in a variety of ways:4

  • "Technical leadership and strategic planning" by the World Health Organization
  • Logistics (procuring and delivering supplies) by UNICEF
  • "Epidemiological and laboratory surveillance" by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  • Demand-side mobilization by the Red Cross
  • Fund raising and financial management by the UN Foundation

Additionally, measles vaccination campaigns may include distribution of other life-saving and improving goods such as insecticide-treated bed nets, vitamin A, polio vaccines, and de-worming medication.5

Does it work?

Global mortality declines

It appears that measles deaths have declined dramatically in recent years. According to the Measles Initiative website, "measles deaths worldwide fell by 78 percent between 2000 and 2008, from an estimated 750,000 to 164,000."6

Mortality rates are calculated using data on measles cases reported by governments to the World Health Organization, estimates of children reached through vaccination campaigns, and knowledge of the characteristics of the disease.7

Monitoring and evaluation

Vaccination campaign reports are available online for 53 of 143 campaigns conducted between 2001 and 2008.8 Some of these are technical reports that discuss how the quality of vaccination efforts and number of children immunized was monitored, how the campaign was carried out, and what other interventions were implemented during the campaign.

We are unclear as to what role the Measles Initiative played in these campaigns.


  • 1

    Anonymous Measles Initiative Representative, email to GiveWell, September 28, 2010.

  • 2

    Anonymous Measles Initiative Representative, email to GiveWell, August 16, 2010.

  • 3

    Measles Initiative, "Fact Sheet (2009)."

  • 4

    "Role of Core Partners

    • WHO plays a leading role in strategy development, consensus building and partner coordination. It provides technical leadership and strategic planning for the management and coordination of global measles control activities and is responsible for ensuring that all components of the WHO/UNICEF strategy are technically sound and successfully implemented.
    • UNICEF uses its logistical and procurement capacity to support purchasing as well as delivery of syringes, vaccine and other commodities to vaccination sites. The agency also supports program implementation by providing cold- chain logistics and maintenance and social mobilization.
    • CDC provides technical assistance for epidemiological and laboratory surveillance. The agency also provides funds for purchasing bundled measles vaccine and supporting safe immunization practices.
    • The American Red Cross leads the global partnership coordination with UNF, provides funding and communication support, and works with national Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies to mobilize parents and caretakers to immunize their children during campaigns and through routine immunization.
    • The UNF manages the funds of the Measles Initiative through an agreement with the United Nations. Under this agreement, the UNF manages and coordinates proposals for donor and implementing partners; provides matching funds for other donor funds, and disburses and accounts for these funds through the UN financial system, and provides communication and fundraising resources."

    Measles Initiative, "Annual Report (2008)," Pg 26.

  • 5

    Measles Initiative, "Integrated Campaigns."

  • 6

    Measles Initiative, "Mortality Reduction."

  • 7

    "To estimate measles mortality, WHO used 1) the published natural history model (6), updated with the most recent population data (7), 2) WHO/UNICEF routine MCV1 coverage estimates and reported SIA coverage, and 3) measles incidence as reported to WHO." CDC 2009, Pg 1322.

  • 8

    Measles Initiative, "Explore the Initiative."