Through The Eliminate Project, Kiwanis International and UNICEF have joined forces to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus—a deadly disease that steals the lives of nearly 31,000 innocent babies and a significant number of women each year.
We did it! We reached our fundraising goal, raising US$110 million in cash and pledges since 2010. However, our job is not done yet.
Now, more than ever, we are determined to finish what we started. Mothers and babies in 12 countries are depending on Kiwanis. They're waiting for us to fulfill our pledges — so we can turn promises into funding; funding into vaccines; and vaccines into lives saved and futures protected. The end of this disease means the beginning of better health for so many of these families.
Kiwanis offers a special thank you to our dedicated campaign volunteers and donors for their passionate and generous efforts to save and protect mothers and babies.
What is MNT?
In 12 countries around the world, maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) can quickly turn the joy of childbirth into tragedy. MNT kills one baby every fifteen minutes. Its effects are excruciating — tiny newborns suffer repeated, painful convulsions and extreme sensitivity to light and touch. There is little hope of survival. And tetanus kills mothers too.
Who suffers from MNT?
MNT is caused when tetanus spores, found in soil everywhere, come into contact with open cuts during childbirth. The disease strikes the poorest of the poor, the geographically hard to reach and those without health care.
Can MNT be stopped?
Yes! MNT is highly preventable. Just three doses of an immunization protect mothers, who then pass on the immunity to their future babies. Together, Kiwanis and UNICEF can stop this disease.
Why hasn't MNT been eliminated already?
UNICEF has helped to successfully eliminate MNT in many countries. But in 12 countries it still strikes babies and mothers who have little or no access to health care — either because they are poor, live in remote areas or are caught in humanitarian emergencies. More funds and resources are needed to reach all babies and mothers at risk.
What will it take to eliminate MNT from the Earth?
More than 100 million mothers and their future babies must be immunized. This requires vaccines, syringes, safe storage, transportation, thousands of skilled staff and more. It will take US$110 million — and the dedicated work of UNICEF and every member of the Kiwanis family.
Why focus on this issue?
It is unacceptable that innocent newborns and their mothers suffer and die from MNT when it can be prevented so easily. This is also an amazing opportunity to reach the poorest, most neglected mothers and babies with lifesaving health care. Developing delivery systems for MNT vaccines will blaze a trail to provide additional desperately needed services to these marginalized families.
What is the Eliminate partnership?
Hand in hand, Kiwanis and UNICEF will eliminate MNT and change the world. Kiwanis' commitment, vision and strength in reaching communities and leaders will help wipe out this cruel, centuries-old disease and pave the way for other interventions. UNICEF has staff working in the most isolated corners of the globe and an unbeatable supply chain.
UNICEF and its partners have combated maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) across the globe through education, outreach, and mass immunization drives. In addition to delivering tetanus vaccines to even the remotest areas by any means necessary — including on horseback and even on foot — UNICEF has trained traditional midwives and birth attendants in safe birthing practices and distributed safe birthing kits. To help stem the tide of MNT, UNICEF has also supported prenatal care and a wide range of other maternal and newborn health services.
Since 1999, UNICEF and its partners have immunized nearly 100 million women with two or more doses of the vaccine and eliminated the disease in 46 countries. Countries that have validated the elimination of MNT include Sierra Leone, Gabon, Laos and Madagascar. MNT still remains a deadly threat in 12 countries.
To learn more about UNICEF's efforts to combat MNT, please visit: http://www.unicef.org/health/index_43509.html