What’s scarier than Contagion? This map!

What’s scarier than Contagion? This map!


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What could possibly be freakier than the global spread of a mysterious zombie disease in “Contagion”? How about this interactive map, which shows an alarming number of outbreaks for diseases we already know how to fight. 

The Council on Foreign Relations’ interactive map, which plots outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, and rubella from 2008 to the present, has gone viral on social media, thanks to a tweet from GAVI Alliance CEO Seth Berkley.

Take a look. Pretty scary, right?

This map does two important things. First, it does something rare in the development space: it uses data visualization to help people understand the spread and prevalence of an outbreak – not just numbers and figures. Secondly, it shows us how important vaccines are. Nearly all of these cases could have been prevented if people had improved access to vaccines and stronger health systems around them.

It’s even scarier when you break the map apart in the full interactive map hereHere’s the measles map, for example:

Diseases like measles exist in all inhabited continents and kill approximately 122,000 people every year—that’s 14 deaths every hour!  What’s worse? Most of these people are children under five years old.

And whooping cough… 

Pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough, also targets small children. The numbers of cases in the United States are unbelievable.

And polio. 

While initiatives by the World Health Organization have reduced poliomyelitis by 99 percent, polio still affects the most vulnerable. 95 percent of outbreaks in developing countries affect children under five years old.

Bottom line? As our friends at GAVI say, #vaccineswork. Unlike “Contagion”, where no vaccine exists, we can put an end to these ugly diseases because we have inexpensive vaccines to do so.

Take action and ask President Obama to give Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the increased funding it deserves in next year’s budget.

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