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The Measles & Rubella Initiative Teams Up With Celebrated Illustrator Sophie Blackall
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American Red Cross
May 29, 2012
Today the global initiative working to eliminate   measles and rubella is proud to announce a unique collaboration with acclaimed illustrator Sophie Blackall. Ms. Blackall begins the partnership this week with a trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to speak with communities affected by measles, which remains a prevalent cause of child mortality.  

“Sophie Blackall is an artist who enthralls adults and children, brilliantly telling stories of daily life in her delicate and playful illustrations. She brings an extra dimension to illustrations through her unique insights into the human condition,” says David Meltzer, Senior Vice President of International Services at the American Red Cross on behalf of the Measles and Rubella Initiative.

“Her images will illustrate how important it is to support measles elimination efforts in sub-Saharan Africa, and will enhance efforts of local health workers, Red Cross and other immunization volunteers to engage mothers to get their children vaccinated.”

Ms. Blackall is an award-winning Brooklyn-based Australian artist who has illustrated over twenty books for children including Ruby’s Wish, Big Red Lollipop and the best-selling Ivy and Bean series which has more than two million copies in print. Ms. Blackall has also captured imaginations with her blog and book Missed Connections, and a celebrated poster for the New York transit authority. 

Now Ms. Blackall plans to produce several illustrations inspired by this week’s trip to the DR Congo.

Families in the DR Congo suffered the largest measles outbreaks of 2011 with more than 135,000 cases and at least 1,500 child deaths. The outbreaks continue this year in areas where children have not had access to measles vaccine which costs only one U.S. dollar. Measles is especially fatal to children who are malnourished or otherwise have weakened immune systems.

“I can read that 380 children die a day globally from measles, and yet, as I wave my own healthy children off to school in the morning, I cannot possibly imagine the truth of this until I see it,” said Ms. Blackall. “I love making pictures that encourage children to turn pages or that cheer up subway commuters, but I've never worked on pictures which might conceivably save lives. I am very pleased to contribute to the Measles & Rubella Initiative’s effort to do just that.”

Ms. Blackall will spend the week in the DR Congo meeting with families, community leaders, health workers, immunization managers and partners involved in the effort to protect children from measles. The illustrations inspired by this trip will be unveiled in September.

“The Measles & Rubella Initiative is thrilled that Ms. Blackall is bringing her talents to tell the story of how painfully measles can devastate families, and critically, how children can be protected against the disease with a safe and inexpensive vaccine, which not only saves lives but provides opportunity for children to thrive.” added Dr. Jos Vandelaer, UNICEF’s Chief of Immunization.

As a preview, Ms. Blackall has published a new illustration inspired by photographs of the most recent measles vaccination campaign in Myanmar. In the illustration children who have just been vaccinated sit with their mother under the gentle care of a nurse. “I was itching to get started on this project,” says Ms. Blackall of the beautiful new artwork.

Ms. Blackall is blogging this week about her travels on http://sophieblackall.blogspot.com/ .

For more information, contact:
Christine McNab, Consultant, Bangkok, +66 8 7016 2994, [email protected]
Christian Moen, UNICEF, New York, +1 212 326 7516, [email protected]
Niki Clark, American Red Cross, Washington, DC +1 202 251 8638, [email protected]
Eric Porterfield, UN Foundation, Washington, DC, +1 202 352 6087, [email protected]
Alan Janssen, CDC, Atlanta, (404) 639-8517 [email protected]
Hayatee Hassan, WHO, Geneva, +41 79 500 6532, [email protected]
Links and social media:
Sophie Blackall blog: http://sophieblackall.blogspot.com/
Measles & Rubella Initiative Website:  www.MeaslesInitiative.org
The blog: https://stopmeaslesrubella.org
More about measles: www.who.int/topics/measles/en
Twitter: @MeaslesRubella
Subscribe to the e-newsletter: http://bit.ly/ICQGJf
Download the Strategic Plan: http://bit.ly/IHKuCo or in Ipad format for IBooks: http://bit.ly/meas-rub

The Measles & Rubella Initiative is a global partnership committed to ensuring no child dies from measles or is born with congenital rubella syndrome. Founded originally as the Measles Initiative in 2001, it’s led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations 4 Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Since 2001, the Initiative has supported 80 countries to deliver more than 1 billion doses of measles vaccine, helped to raise measles vaccination coverage to 85% globally, and reduced measles deaths by 74%. These efforts have contributed significantly to reducing child mortality as per Millennium Development Goal 4.