The American Red Cross and Air France Form Three-Year Partnership to Support Fight Against Measles

NEW YORK -- Air France today announced that it has signed a three-year agreement with the American Red Cross to form a partnership helping the U.S.-based agency carry out their Measles Initiative, a five-year program to vaccinate 200 million at-risk children against measles in Africa and eliminate the deadly disease from the African continent.

In addition to the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation (UNF), UNICEF, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization are leading the effort in this special initiative.

This Saturday, Dec. 6, 2003, Air France will fly members of the American Red Cross National Youth Council including youth, who have created and carried out projects to support the Measles Initiative, to Dakar, Senegal. From there, volunteers will travel to Gambia to participate in measles vaccination campaigns throughout the country, then return to their communicates to help advocate for the Measles Initiative and garner support to continue the life-saving vaccinations over the next three years.

Last month, Air France provided transportation to Conakry, Guinea, for an American Red Cross delegation from the Ithaca, N.Y., area including a teacher, an 11-year-old student advocate for the Measles Initiative and other volunteers. In Guinea, volunteers visited vaccination posts, educated mothers and children about the importance of vaccinations, visited schools encouraging children to get measles shots and met with doctors at local hospitals to discuss the effects of measles on children.

As part of this first-ever partnership, the agreement between the American Red Cross and Air France will allow members of the airline's frequent flier program to donate miles for tickets that will support American Red Cross international programs including the Measles Initiative. Both are working together to develop other initiatives.

"Measles, a disease that can easily be prevented, is one of the leading causes of death of African children," said Marie-Joseph Male, vice president and general manager -- Air France USA. "We are committed to helping an American institution like the Red Cross by assisting them with their transportation needs."

In addition, Air France will promote the Measles Initiative at various airport ticket counters throughout the United States. Air France passengers checking in for flights to Europe will learn how they can support the work in Africa.

"The American Red Cross is proud of our partnership with Air France and their commitment to join us to fight this deadly disease. Because of their generous donation of tickets and their efforts to educate customers about the tragedy of measles, we can now share first-hand our life-saving efforts with American youth and our advocates around the country," said Gerry Jones, vice president, international services for the American Red Cross. "Our hope is that individuals and families will want to take an active role in wiping out measles in Africa where it kills nearly half a million children each year."

So far, the Measles Initiative has vaccinated more than 106 million children in 24 countries saving 104,000 lives.

Source: American Red Cross; Air France

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