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Uganda eliminates tetanus in mothers and babies

A validation survey confirmed that Uganda has successfully eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT), after years of programs targeting the issue, the UN News Centre reports.

The UN-supported program vaccinated nearly two million women of child-bearing age between 2002 and 2009, according to UNICEF. Vaccinating women and educating about hygienic child deliveries and umbilical cord practices prevents maternal and neonatal tetanus deaths, the UN reports. The disease is the most common consequence of unclean childbirth practices, which often include cutting the umbilical cord with an unsanitized instrument or cleaning it with ash or cow dung, which are traditional practices in some African regions.

Uganda reported its success in eliminating this disease in 2010, and a 2011 validation survey mandated by the UN World Health Organization confirmed it. The guidelines state that the most at-risk district for MNT in a given country must have no recorded cases of the disease for a specific period of time to be able to claim elimination.

When given to pregnant women, the tetanus vaccine protects the mother and her baby, according to Dr. Sharad Sapra, UNICEF Uganda Country Representative. Tetanus is one of the most common and most lethal results of unclean infant deliveries, especially in places where there is not adequate medical care.
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