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No more maternal and neonatal tetanus in Mozambique, UN-backed survey finds

No more maternal and neonatal tetanus in Mozambique, UN-backed survey finds

Women being vaccinated against tetanus in Maputo Province, Mozambique
Mozambique has eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus, according to a United Nations-backed health survey.

The nationwide survey, which was conducted last month with support from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), found no deaths from maternal and neonatal tetanus in the country, confirming that the disease no longer exists as a public health problem.

“Commitment, hard work and partnerships are paying off,” said UNICEF Representative Jesper Morch. “This milestone demonstrates that delivering life-saving vaccines to the poorest and most isolated communities brings results, and we will make every effort to sustain this progress.”

Mozambique joins 18 other countries in eliminating the disease since 2000, with a further 39 countries still trying to reach the goal of less than one maternal and neonatal tetanus case per 1,000 live births nationally.

The survey findings showed that 87 per cent of eligible mothers received at least two doses of tetanus toxoid vaccine, and 64 per cent of deliveries were assisted by a medically-trained birth attendant, reducing the risk of infection.

Maternal and neonatal tetanus is a swift and painful disease that kills thousands of mothers and their newborns every year. The disease is the result of unhygienic birth practices, leading to contamination of the umbilical cord with tetanus spores when it is being cut or dressed after delivery.

The World Health Assembly first called for the elimination of neonatal tetanus in 1989. In 1999, the goal was expanded to include the elimination of maternal tetanus as well.