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The Eliminate Project: Our 2018 highlights

Dec 20, 2018

2018 was an important year in the fight against maternal and neonatal tetanus. Kiwanians worked hard to fulfill their pledges and are protecting more mothers and babies from this tragic disease. Here are some of this year’s highlights:  

Kenya eliminates MNT  

Mothers in Kenya no longer fear their babies dying of tetanus. In July, Kenya officially became the 25th country to eliminate MNT since Kiwanis International partnered with UNICEF USA in 2010. There are 14 countries where babies still face the threat of this painful and deadly — yet preventable — disease.  

Hear Rose Nijraini, UNICEF community health specialist in Kenya, describe the value of Kiwanis’ work against MNT in this video

Successful MNT Challenge  

During the 103rd Kiwanis International Convention, Kiwanis members from around the world came together to support The Eliminate Project. Generous donors put forth US$100,000 to challenge Kiwanians to raise another $100,000 during convention. And they did! Inspired by the response, the initial donors pledged another $100,000 — and Kiwanians came through again. 

Altogether, the MNT Challenge raised $502,282.72 to save and protect mothers and babies worldwide.   

Working hard in Africa  

This fall, the World Health Organization’s Africa Region held a workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, to accelerate efforts to achieve MNT elimination and sustain its progress in the 10 African nations that haven’t reached elimination. As a result, each country’s team reviewed its risk status and drafted action plans.  

Germany fulfills its pledge 

Germany submitted its final payment toward its US$843,085 pledge in October, becoming the second district to reach this milestone.  

Like clubs in many other districts, German clubs held fundraisers to support The Eliminate Project — and often split the proceeds with local projects. One uniquely German fundraiser encouraged members to forgo Wiener Schnitzel and donate that money to The Eliminate Project!  

Dr. Julio Srulijes, Kiwanis Children’s Fund ambassador and district chair, also said having the right volunteers in place was extremely helpful.  

“Europe is leading the way in pledge completion,” said Ann Updegraff Spleth, chief operating officer of the Kiwanis Children’s Fund. “The vulnerable mothers and babies of the world are being saved and protected by their dedication and devotion to the elimination of this scandal of a disease, which steals our children, breaks our hearts and is totally preventable.” 

Read full story here

MNT experts and partners meet  

In November, Kiwanis leaders traveled to New York City to join leaders from other international organizations for a discussion of the fight against maternal and neonatal tetanus. The meeting began with technical experts reviewing progress, future steps and challenges with members of the Global MNT Elimination Initiative — which includes UNICEF, the World Health Organization, United Nations Population Fund, and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The next day, Kiwanis International and the Kiwanis Children’s Fund joined the discussion. In fact, several organizations working to eliminate MNT participated—including LDS Charities, the Nigerian and Cameron ministries of health, and BD Medical, the vaccine’s manufacturer.  

Still at risk 

Since 2010, when The Eliminate Project began, the worldwide Kiwanis family has helped eliminate MNT in 25 countries. But the threat remains for mothers and babies in 14 nations: 

  • Africa (10): Angola, Central African Republic, Chad*, Democratic Republic of the Congo*, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria**, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan 
  • Middle East (3): Afghanistan, Pakistan**, Yemen 
  • Asian Pacific (1): Papua New Guinea

*Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo will conduct validation surveys in 2019. 

**South East Zone of Nigeria and the Punjab Province in Pakistan have been validated for MNTE.