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Celebrating progress in Cambodia and India

Oct 07, 2015

The World Health Organization conducted validation surveys in Cambodia and India earlier this year, and the results show both countries have eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT). These landmark achievements will save the lives of countless women and their newborns.

Throughout the campaign, Kiwanis members have closely watched Cambodia’s progress in MNT elimination. Since 2010 three groups from Kiwanis, including Campaign Chairman Randy DeLay and Kiwanis International President Sue Petrisin, travelled to the Southeast Asian country to see the progress firsthand. Despite pronounced inequities that have inhibited many rural areas, we can now celebrate that this deadly disease is no longer a threat.

“One of my first acts as campaign chairman was seeing UNICEF’s work in Cambodia. It was then and there that I learned, firsthand, that no baby deserves to die when we have the power to save lives,” recalls Randy.

India is one of the most populous countries in the world with 327 million women of childbearing age and 26 million children born every year. In 1988, tetanus killed as many as 160,000 young children in India. The drop since has been extraordinary. The elimination of MNT as a public health problem means that the annual rate is less than one per 1,000 live births.

“India’s remarkable achievement in eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus shows that by making a strong commitment to investing in public health, their youngest citizens and mothers will enjoy their right to health, thereby making us all stronger,” says UNICEF Representative Louis Arsenault.

Since 1999, UNICEF and its partners have eliminated the disease in
38 countries, including Mauritania, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Madagascar and Sierra Leone. It is great progress—but 21 countries and millions of lives are still at risk.

“Step-by-step we are winning the battle against tetanus,” adds DeLay. “Let’s dig deep and do everything possible during the next three months to reach our fundraising goal—and ensure no more babies die from tetanus!”

As of September 16, the Kiwanis family has less than US$10 million left to raise to reach its US$110 million fundraising goal, including the Canadian government match. We can do this!

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