UNICEF joins forces with global volunteer corps Kiwanis to eliminate tetanus

25 June 2010

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the global volunteer network Kiwanis International have announced a new partnership to eradicate tetanus in women and children worldwide.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the global volunteer network Kiwanis International have announced a new partnership to eradicate tetanus in women and children worldwide.

Known as “The Eliminate Project,” the initiative will mobilize nearly 600,000 Kiwanis volunteers to help raise resources and awareness about maternal and neonatal tetanus, UNICEF noted in a news release.

The aim is to raise $110 million over the next five years to provide help and immunization to women and children in countries where the disease is most prevalent.

“This partnership with Kiwanis International will give us the tools we need to save the lives of women and children who desperately need our help,” said Nicholas K. Alipui, UNICEF Director of Programmes.

The new support will allow UNICEF to immunize 129 million women who are at the greatest risk of contracting tetanus – which is preventable through immunization and hygienic birth practices – during labour and delivery. Most of the mothers and newborn babies who die of the disease live in 40 countries in Africa and Southern and East Asia.

According to UNICEF, the disease kills one baby every nine minutes, and death is preceded by excruciating pain – tiny newborns suffer repeated, painful convulsions and experience extreme sensitivity to light and touch. Most of these babies die because they do not receive essential life-saving health care.

“If we are ever going to make the virtual elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus into a meaningful impact for children, this is it,” said Dr. Alipui.

Existing global efforts against the disease have already proven highly successful, and UNICEF and partners have eliminated the disease in 18 countries. Earlier this month, Myanmar was declared free of maternal and neonatal tetanus after years of persistent efforts to vaccinate all pregnant women in the country, becoming the second nation in the region to achieve that milestone.

“This new partnership will allow efforts to reach those who are still unprotected to receive the help they so desperately need,” stated UNICEF.

Prior to their current project, UNICEF and Kiwanis worked together during a joint global campaign against iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), which is the single greatest cause of preventable mental retardation. The campaign increased global access to iodized salt from less than 20 per cent in 1990 to more than 70 per cent by 2000.

 

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News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

UN declares Myanmar free of maternal and neonatal tetanus

Years of persistent efforts to vaccinate all pregnant women in Myanmar against maternal and neonatal tetanus have borne fruit with the country now declared free of the disease, the second East Asian nation to have achieved that milestone status, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported today.