Uganda announces elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus
26 JULY 2011 | Kampala, Uganda – Earlier this month Uganda announced that it had eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT). The country is the 20th to do so since 2000, largely thanks to the Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination campaign which launched in Uganda in 2002. The campaign is supported by the MNT Elimination Initiative, an international private-public partnership that includes PMNCH members such as UNICEF, WHO, UNFPA, GAVI, USAID, Save the Children, PATH, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as corporations such as Pampers – a division of Proctor & Gamble, and Becton, Dickinson and Company.
“This is a historic achievement for Uganda, and the Government should be applauded for their commitment to eliminating this killer disease,” said Dr Sharad Sapra, UNICEF Uganda Country Representative.
Maternal and neonatal tetanus deaths can be easily prevented by immunizing mothers with the tetanus vaccine and emphasizing hygienic delivery and cord care practices. Between 2002 and 2009, 25 high-risk districts in Uganda were targeted for intervention, and close to two million women of child bearing age received three doses of tetanus vaccines in those areas.
In compliance with the World Health Organization’s guidelines, the most at-risk district for MNT in a given country must have no recorded cases for a specific period of time in order to claim elimination. In 2010, Uganda reported it had eliminated the disease – and this year, a validation survey has taken place, confirming Uganda’s elimination campaign has been successful.
Other countries that have achieved elimination include Bangladesh, Burundi, Egypt, Mozambique, Rwanda, Turkey and South Africa. Globally, there are 38 countries where MNT is still a public health problem, and the MNTE initiative is focused on achieving elimination in those countries, as well.
For Uganda and other countries that have achieved elimination, continued emphasis on tetanus vaccination drives must continue as MNT can only be eliminated, not eradicated.
“With the continued support from the initiative and the continued commitment from the Government of Uganda, we are confident that MNT will not return to Uganda and unnecessarily claim lives,” said Dr Sapra.