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India eliminates maternal and neonatal tetanus

In India, a long-anticipated result has arrived: The World Health Organization’s validation survey shows the country has eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT). This landmark achievement will save the lives of countless mothers and their newborns.

India is one of the most populous countries in the world with 327 million women of childbearing age and 26 million children born every year.

In 1988, tetanus killed as many as 160,000 young children in India. The drop since has been extraordinary. The elimination of MNT as a public health problem means that the annual rate is less than one per 1,000 live births.

“India has shown strong leadership in overcoming two major threats to the prosperity and future of the nation: polio and now maternal and neonatal tetanus,” said UNICEF representative Louis Arsenault. “India’s remarkable achievement in eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus shows that by making a strong commitment to investing in public health, their youngest citizens and mothers will enjoy their right to health. And thus makes us all stronger.”

Since 1999, maternal and neonatal tetanus has been eliminated in 37 countries, including Mauritania, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Gabon, Cote d' Ivoire and Iraq. It is great progress—but 22 countries and millions of lives are still at risk.

Through The Eliminate Project, Kiwanis International is joining with UNICEF for the final push to eliminate MNT from the face of the Earth. The push requires US$110 million along with the participation of every Kiwanis family member and the continuing work of UNICEF.

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