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With help from Kiwanis and UNICEF, Chad eliminates MNT!

Apr 26, 2019
© UNICEF_UN0291197_Frank Dejongh

Today, mothers in Chad no longer fear losing newborns to tetanus. Thanks to the work of Kiwanis and UNICEF, Chad has become the 26th country to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) since the start of The Eliminate Project

The World Health Organization (WHO) presented the official certificate to Chad’s minister of health earlier this month in recognition of the country’s efforts. The elimination of MNT is the result of Chad’s improvements in recent years regarding routine immunization.   

With the support of Kiwanis International, along with partners such as LDS Charities and BD, UNICEF has increased access to lifesaving immunizations for some of the world’s most vulnerable mothers and babies. Our partnership has enabled UNICEF to vaccinate millions of women of reproductive age against tetanus. 

“We’ve really made a huge impact,” said Stan Soderstrom, executive director of Kiwanis International. “When we started, I said that when we can get down to counting the number of nations on our fingers and thumbs, well, we’ll feel good about that. We’re getting close.”  

© UNICEF_UN0294769_Frank DejonghMNT remains a threat in 13 countries: Afghanistan, Angola, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen. 

Most mothers and newborns dying of tetanus live in areas where women are poor, have little access to health care and have little information about safe delivery practices. There were other obstacles to overcome in Chad. The African nation has a large displaced population due to conflict prompted by Boko Haram. Many children have been separated from their families, subjected to exploitation, abuse and recruitment by armed groups. Despite this, the country has been able to achieve this milestone. 

Once MNT is contracted, the fatality rate can be as high as 100 percent without hospital care. In fact, the disease causes mothers and infants to die in excruciating pain within days of delivery. 

However, the disease is surprisingly easy to prevent through immunization and hygienic birth practices. In fact, a series of three shots provides lifetime immunity to a woman and all her future children. 

© UNICEF_UN0294792_Frank DejonghWHO estimates that in 2017, the latest year for which estimates are available, 30,848 newborns died from neonatal tetanus, a 47% drop since Kiwanis partnered with UNICEF in 2011. In 2010, 58,000 babies were estimated to die from tetanus every year. 

The money Kiwanis is raising through The Eliminate Project funds vaccinations, as well as transportation, volunteer training, monitoring and supervision. Raised funds also pay health care workers and skilled birthing attendants — so that mothers give birth in clean, safe environments.   

Kiwanis International is committed to meeting the health and vaccination needs of mothers and children around the world so that no child dies a needless, preventable death.  

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