Maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) kills approximately 49,000 newborns and a significant number of mothers each year. Due to the nature of the disease, these mothers and newborns die in excruciating pain within days of delivery. However, this painful and fatal infectious disease is surprisingly easy to prevent with a series of three tetanus toxoid immunizations that cost just an average of $1.80 per series per woman.
To combat this disease, UNICEF is leading a global maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination initiative. The series of vaccinations for pregnant and prospective mothers can neutralize this deadly disease and also protect their future newborns. In addition, this small sum of money per woman funds cold chains (consistently cold conditions for storing and transporting immunization materials), health education for expectant women, and training for birth attendants about how to safely and cleanly deliver babies. The disease has been eliminated in 38 countries as a result of the initiative, but tetanus still remains a lethal threat in 21 other countries.
The impact of LDS Charities’ partnership with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to support the global elimination of MNT has already been felt in Chad, a country where 15 out of every 100 children die before the age of five. LDS Charities’ support enabled over 1.4 million women of childbearing age to be vaccinated in May in 46 health districts, reaching 97 percent of the women targeted.
UNICEF and LDS Charities will continue their efforts to protect women and their future newborns against deadly diseases by supporting vaccination campaigns, strengthening routine vaccination services, and building capacity among health professionals.
*Photo of Ablamti Fanta, 29. She takes time out of her day selling clothes at the market to bring her 6-month-old daughter to the Atrone center for vaccinations. “I come because the women are welcoming, and they really respect hygiene here,” says Fanta, who has two older children, ages 9 and 5. “I know my child will be protected."
©UNICEFChad/2015/Manuel Moreno Gonzalez