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While most children here in the U.S. are inoculated against preventable illnesses, for many children elsewhere in the world, vaccines are not easily available. In response to an outbreak of rubella earlier this year, AmeriCares is sending 55,000 doses of vaccine to India this week to help lower the risk of long-term disabilities caused by the virus.
“This donation reflects our commitment to the people of India by helping them live healthier lives,” says AmeriCares President & CEO Curt Welling.
The vaccine will be distributed to numerous hospitals and clinics in the Thane district of Mumbai in western Maharashtra where the people live in extreme poverty and without quality medical facilities. The vaccine, Meruvax®, was donated by AmeriCares partner, Merck & Co., Inc.
“Merck has a long history of supporting charitable works and programs,” says Leonard Tauro, managing director of MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt.Ltd., the Indian subsidiary of Merck & Co. “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 long-time partner in India, the Impact India Foundation, will monitor the distribution of the vaccine to numerous health clinics in the region. 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.