Fighting Maternal & Neonatal Tetanus

Photo Credit: CookeCapeMay - Keyclub of Cape May Plunge into "Project Eliminate"

49,000 babies died in 2013 alone. The deaths according to UNICEF are from Maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT)  a swift and painful killer. A significant number of women also die due to maternal tetanus every year.

Perhaps not only are these facts new to you, like me, they are startling. Of the 35 countries affected by this disease many are in Africa, South or South East Asia.

Now imagine that for approximately $1.80 each one of those lives can be saved.

That’s exactly what motivated a group of thirteen high school kids from Lower Cape May Regional High School to brave frigid air and water temperatures and plunge into the Delaware Bay off Sunset Beach on Sunday afternoon. For their efforts, the Key Club as they’re known in relation to the Kiwanis organization, raised over $500 for project Eliminate, the cooperative effort between Kiwanis and UNICEF to eradicate Maternal and neonatal tetanus.

With the Eliminate Project, Kiwanis International and UNICEF have joined forces to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus. This deadly disease steals the lives of nearly 60,000 innocent babies and a significant number of women each year. The effects of the disease are excruciating — tiny newborns suffer repeated, painful convulsions and extreme sensitivity to light and touch.

To eliminate MNT from the Earth, more than 100 million mothers and their future babies must be immunized. The mission in a sentence according to Kiwanis International.

Neonatal tetanus is a form of generalized tetanus that occurs in newborns. Infants who have not acquired passive immunity because the mother has never been immunised are at risk. It usually occurs through infection of the unhealed umbilical stump, particularly when the stump is cut with a non-sterile instrument. Neonatal tetanus mostly occurs in developing countries, particularly those with the least developed health infrastructure. It is rare in developed countries.

In many affected countries, there was a lack of awareness of maternal and neonatal tetanus and how to prevent it. Education and immunisation campaigns have been launched in the remaining countries at risk and are targeted particularly at pregnant women. Education focuses on hygienic birth practices and infant cord care as well as the need for immunization.

The $500 raised by the local key club in Cape May may seem like a small amount, but the kids know that their efforts will save lives through project Eliminate and that alone motivates them.


By John Cooke @CookeCapeMay

Facebook: John Cooke

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