Giving Compass' Take:

• Devex expresses concerns over the lack of support for rubella prevention around the world and how it highlights gender inequality, since the burden of care for children afflicted with the disease usually falls on women.

• What can be done to alleviate the problem? One positive sign is that Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, has helped get 24 countries to introduce the rubella vaccine into routine immunization schedules. More support is needed, though.

• For donors, here's why global vaccinations are a high impact opportunity. The benefits extend beyond prevention.


For such a mild virus, it inspired immense fear. As the disease spread, infecting 12.5 million people in the United States alone, so too did evidence of the birth defects it caused. Without a vaccine or cure, pregnant women were left vulnerable. This outbreak was not Zika in 2016, but rubella in the 1960s.

The first vaccine arrived soon after, in 1969, and the Americas were declared rubella free in 2015. The combined measles-rubella vaccine is now both relatively inexpensive and widely recommended, yet this disease continues to threaten mothers and disable 100,000 babies every year, mostly in developing countries. Why is this still happening?

Rubella demands a level of global prioritization that it simply has not received. The rubella vaccine is one of the best we have, requiring only one dose for individual protection. However, for effective disease prevention in the community, at least 80 percent of children must be vaccinated over a sustained period. That’s no small feat in any country, let alone the world’s poorer nations.

In our gender unequal world, it does not help that the burden of this difficult disease — both in terms of maternal health and the caregiving such a disabled child requires — falls particularly upon women. In the countries where rubella is now most prevalent, limited health care, discrimination, and poor disability support services only serve to make things worse for women whose lives are blighted by contracting rubella in early pregnancy.

Read the full article about rubella prevention and gender inequality by Anuradha Gupta at Devex International Development.