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Stamford, CT, September 13, 2006 – In response to an outbreak of rubella in India earlier this year, AmeriCares delivered 55,000 doses of the vaccine Meruvax®, donated by Merck & Co., Inc., to help lower the risk of long-term disabilities caused by the virus.
“Upon hearing of the rubella risk in India, we reached out to our long-time partner, Merck, which responded immediately and generously donated their vaccine,” says AmeriCares President & CEO Curt Welling. “This donation reflects AmeriCares commitment to the people of India by helping tens of thousands live healthier lives.”
The vaccines were delivered today and will be administered to 55,000 people in the Thane district of Mumbai in western Maharashtra where the people live in extreme poverty and without quality medical facilities. AmeriCares long-time partner in India, the Impact India Foundation, will monitor the distribution of the vaccine to numerous health clinics in the region.
Leonard Tauro, Managing Director of MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt.Ltd., the Indian subsidiary of Merck & Co, said, “Merck has a long history of supporting charitable works and programs, and we are proud to be able to continue to demonstrate our commitment to finding ways to help people with limited access to vaccines.”
Rubella is a viral illness that leads to numerous long-term disabilities such as hearing loss, congenital heart disease and impaired vision. When rubella occurs during pregnancy, it may cause congenital rubella syndrome in the infants of infected mothers, which can lead to growth and mental retardation. While rubella cases have declined considerably in the United States since the vaccine was introduced in 1969, only half of the countries in the world have rubella vaccination programs, leaving many, including those in India, at risk. This donation will now bring much needed care to a population with limited access to quality health care.
AmeriCares has been active in India since 1982, providing critical relief to victims of floods, cyclones, earthquakes and other humanitarian emergencies, as well as ongoing medical assistance to numerous hospitals and clinics. AmeriCares is registered under the Indo-U.S. Agreement of 1968 to provide humanitarian assistance to India.
AmeriCares and Merck have been partners for over 15 years, teaming up to help treat people around the world who do not have access to care. AmeriCares has received more than $47 million in product and vaccines from Merck over the past 17 years.
Impact India Foundation has been helping the poor and disabled in India for 23 years. The foundation is internationally acclaimed for its Lifeline Express, the world’s first hospital on a train, whose goal is to reach those in India’s rural interior. AmeriCares has supported the Lifeline Express since the Gujarat earthquake in 2001 when it donated $100,000 to purchase medicine and equipment for its mobile unit. More recently, AmeriCares delivered $15.5 million worth of aid for those affected by the flooding in Mumbai last year.