A measles outbreak is ravaging children in several states in the United States, including Washington and Oregon have sickened hundreds of of children, many unvaccinated. Thousands more have been exposed to the highly contagious and sometimes deadly virus. The Philippines is also in the midst of an outbreak, where more than 150 children have been killed.

These measles illnesses and deaths come despite the fact that vaccines are routinely available and extremely safe. We have known for years that vaccinations, including routine childhood vaccinations for diseases like measles, mumps and rubella prevent children from dying on a fairly massive scale. We also know that as a health intervention, most vaccines and vaccination programs are relatively inexpensive.

Now, new research suggests an added benefit of getting a measles vaccine: it can prevent poverty.

Dr. Angela Chang lead a ground breaking study that shows how vaccines can be an effective tool to prevent individuals in the developing world from slipping down the income latter and into extreme poverty. Specifically, she examined dozens of vaccines and vaccination campaigns in the developing world and used statistical modeling and analysis to determine the relationship between what is known as medical impoverishment and vaccine coverage.

The study was published in the journal Health Affairs while she was a doctoral candidate at Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Angela Chang is now a post doctoral fellow at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

We kick off the conversation discussing what we mean by medical impoverishment before having a longer conversation about her findings.

If you have 20 minutes and want to learn how vaccines not only save lives, but also fight poverty then have a listen.

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