Tetanus kills 140 000 newborn babies every year
Every three minutes, somewhere in the world - but mainly in developing countries - a newborn baby dies of neonatal tetanus. That comes down to ± 140 000 infants a year.
The use of unclean instruments to cut the umblical cord and inappropriate cord care are the main reasons why these babies contract and die of the disease.
Mothers in poor countries are at risk too. It is estimated that between 15 000 and 30 000 women die each year of the disease, which is caused by septic procedures during the delivery or any type of open wound during pregnancy. Botched and illegal abortions that do not take place in a clinic, are also a culprit.
The sadest thing is that all these deaths are easy to prevent with one simple vaccination.
To eliminate the disease, Diaper giant Pampers and UNICEF have joined hands in the Pampers UNICEF One Pack = One Vaccine campaign. On a global level the initiative has already raised more than 50 million vaccines. The aim is to raise an additional 200 million vaccines globally over the next three years.
“The silent killer, as it has become known, has ravaged many countries on the African continent," said Leila Pakkala of UNICEF South Africa. "We are delighted to have a global brand like Pampers on board as our partner."
Although tetanus vaccines are readily available in South Africa, the country has decided to join the campaign against the disease.
“HIV and malnutrition related illnesses are two of the major causes behind infant mortality in South Africa. We are pleased to announce that in addition to our contribution to the global campaign a portion of the total funds raised will go to UNICEF South Africa to help vulnerable communities in their fight against these diseases,” Peterson said.
The South African campaign kicked off in the last week of November 2008.