Wednesday, June 30, 2010

UN Partners with Kiwanis to Eliminate Tetanus Globally

On June 25th, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and Kiwanis, an international organization of volunteers, announced a new partnership to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT). The plan is to raise $110 million over the next 5 years and vaccinate around 129 million people who live in the countries where the disease is most prevalent. UNICEF will work with Kiwanis's 600,000 volunteers around the world to raise awareness and help deliver the treatment.

Previous campaigns to eliminate neonatal tetanus have for the most part been very successful. UNICEF's programs have already eliminated the disease in 18 countries, providing the vaccine to some 90 million women. The most recent triumph came in Myanmar, which announced on June 4th that it was free from maternal and neonatal tetanus.

MNT kills over 60,000 newborns each year, despite the fact that it is an extremely preventable disease. Most of the death's from neonatal tetanus arise from poor hygiene during the birthing process and a lack of access to essential life saving health care. A vaccine costs $1.80 per treatment and if given to a mother early enough, it can insure that she will be safe from tetanus for the rest of her child bearing years.

-Matthew Thwaites

SOURCES: "UN Campaign Aims to Eliminate Neonatal Tetanus Globally-Voice of America, "UNICEF joins forces with global volunteer corps Kiwanis to eliminate tetanus"-UN News