Kiwanis works with UNICEF to support mothers and babies around the world.

By Erin Chandler 

Kiwanis International is proud to support UNICEF in its work to protect mothers and babies from maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) with a new grant of US$275,000 from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund.  

MNT is a painful and deadly disease that disproportionately exists in areas where poverty, lack of education and inadequate health infrastructure make unhygienic birth practices more common. Kiwanis joined UNICEF in its global campaign to eliminate MNT in 2010, and newborn deaths from tetanus have dropped significantly since then.  

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 159 babies died every day from tetanus in 2011 — but by 2020 that number had dropped to 66. Of the 59 priority countries assessed to have more than one case of neonatal tetanus per 1,000 live births in 1999, 47 have since achieved MNT elimination, thanks to the combined efforts of UNICEF, WHO, Kiwanis and others.  

The US$275,000 grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will help to facilitate mass tetanus vaccination campaigns for women of reproductive age in the 12 countries where MNT has not yet been eliminated. In addition, the grant will help fund assessments and surveys that monitor and validate the elimination of MNT, and it will help strengthen health systems to ensure the sustainability of elimination efforts.  

This latest grant comes a little over a year after a US$500,000 Children’s Fund grant was earmarked for UNICEF’S efforts to eradicate MNT in Pakistan. That grant was extended into this year when a polio outbreak and devastating floods in Pakistan made it difficult to access target regions.  

Most of the 12 countries where MNT has not yet been eliminated have similarly experienced disease outbreaks, conflict and crises that have made it difficult to deliver reliable healthcare. UNICEF will work to deliver the tetanus vaccine and necessary follow-up immunization in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and the Central African Republic. It will also provide education and training on clean childbirth and umbilical cord care practices so that MNT levels do not rise again. 

Supporting UNICEF’S fight against MNT is just one way Kiwanis has furthered the cause of children’s health around the globe. Kiwanis also partnered with UNICEF to combat iodine deficiency, one of the world’s leading causes of preventable intellectual and developmental disabilities. Kiwanis Service Leadership Programs are currently raising funds through Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF to benefit the Brick x Brick and Start Strong: Zambia initiatives — both of which recognize the inextricable link between healthy childhood development and having a safe place to grow and learn. 

The Kiwanis Children’s Fund continues to support clubs everywhere as they carry out projects to advance the causes of health and nutrition, education and literacy, and youth leadership development — projects that create a continuum of impact in children’s lives and set them up for bright futures. You can make a gift to the Children’s Fund today to help kids in your community and throughout the world.