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India is on the verge of crossing another milestone in public health- maternal and neonatal tetanus

Confirmations of the breakthrough of India eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus  came after a WHO and UNICEF joint team conducted field visits in the last four hotspots where incidence of the infection had remained above acceptable levels.

Maternal and neonatal tetanus — an infection that at its peak killed an estimated 2 lakh adults and children every year — and is expecting an official certification from WHO within two months. This is from the  Health Ministry sources as mentioned in this article in the  Sunday Express.

Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland and Meghalaya, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, which were the last four hotspots where incidence of the infection had remained above acceptable levels as mentioned in this article.

What is maternal and  neonatal tetanus ?

According to WHO, one can get tetanus when the spores of the bacterium Clostridium Tetani infect a wound or the umbilical stump.People of all ages can get tetanus but the disease is particularly common and serious in newborn babies (“neonatal tetanus”). It requires treatment in a medical facility, often in a referral hospital. Neonatal tetanus, which is mostly fatal, is particularly common in rural areas where deliveries are at home without adequate sterile procedures. WHO estimated that neonatal tetanus killed about 180 000 babies in 2002.

Tetanus can be prevented through immunisation with tetanus-toxoid (TT) -containing vaccines. Neonatal tetanus can be prevented by immunising women of childbearing age with tetanus toxoid, either during pregnancy or outside of pregnancy. This protects the mother and also her baby.


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