WNBA and the Measles Initiative Form Partnership to Vaccinate Children Around the World

NEW YORK, August 18, 2010 – The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) today announced its support of the Measles Initiative. Established in 2001 by the American Red Cross, United Nations Foundation, UNICEF, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization, the Measles Initiative represents one of the world’s most successful partnerships in public health, aiming to reduce global measles mortality through mass vaccination campaigns and by strengthening routine immunization overseas.

During the 2010 WNBA season, the Atlanta Dream, Phoenix Mercury and Seattle Storm will each host a special Vaccinate a Village Night to help expand awareness and education for the Measles Initiative. At each arena, efforts will include various on-court promotions, public announcements, and information booths providing fans with ways to get involved. WNBA Cares will also be making a donation of $25,000 to support the Measles Initiative, which will ensure the vaccination of the same number of children. With each dollar donated, the Measles Initiative can protect another child against measles.

“We’re proud to support the Measles Initiative,” said Kathy Behrens, NBA Executive Vice President, Social Responsibility & Player Programs. "It's important to provide education about this disease, and thanks to our players and teams, with Vaccinate a Village Night, we hope to bring more awareness about the issue to new audiences.”

Additionally, WNBA Cares will produce a nationally broadcast public service announcement (PSA) in support of this cause. The PSA will feature WNBA All-Star Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks, along with NBA Legend and Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo, and will debut during the 2010 WNBA Playoffs.

”We are honored to have WNBA Cares by our side as the Measles Initiative enters its second decade of saving lives,” said David Meltzer, Senior Vice President of International Services with the American Red Cross. “Every day an estimated 450 people still die unnecessarily from measles. We are eager to mobilize WNBA athletes and fans to help curb this trend and defeat measles within our lifetime. This partnership is critical in ensuring the disease doesn’t rebound.”

While leveraging the expertise of leading health and humanitarian organizations, the Measles Initiative works closely with governments to help train local health workers, improve vaccine storage, promote safe injection practices, and develop laboratories and systems to identify disease outbreaks.

More than 700 million children in 60 countries have received a measles vaccination supported by the Measles Initiative, and largely as a result of its efforts, measles deaths have decreased by 78 percent, saving an estimated 4.3 million lives globally.*

Through WNBA Cares, the WNBA is committed to creating programs that improve the quality of life for all people, with a special emphasis on programs that promote a healthy lifestyle and positive body image, breast health awareness, youth and family development, and education.

For more information on WNBA Cares and the Measles Initiative, please visit: www.wnba.com/cares and www.measlesinitiative.org.

*Between 2000 and 2008.
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