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Democratic Republic of the Congo eliminates MNT

| Oct 14, 2019

Democratic Republic of the Congo eliminates MNT!

Here is some wonderful news for moms and babies! The Democratic Republic of the Congo has become the 27th country to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus since Kiwanis International’s members dedicated themselves to fighting this horrible but preventable disease.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) presented the official report validating elimination to Democratic Republic of the Congo’s minister of health earlier this month in recognition of the country’s efforts.   

The news is especially rewarding to Kiwanis International President Daniel Vigneron.  

Akosusu Siska kisses her one day old baby, Reagen, in the UNICEF-supported Jules Chevalier clinic in Mbandaka, Équateur Province, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). © UNICEF/UN0328794/Naftalin “I am very pleased that through the efforts of Kiwanis and UNICEF, my childhood home country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been removed from the MNT list. I am all the more pleased, because I know this country very well, and it is dear to me. It is one of the poorest in the world and really needed our help to eliminate MNT," Vigneron said. “Kiwanis International and the Kiwanis Children’s Fund will continue to target countries in need of vaccines, which will result in healthier mothers and babies. We must continue to focus on fulfilling our commitment to eliminate MNT."

UNICEF and health workers faced incredible challenges in achieving this milestone. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is among the poorest countries in the world: one in 10 children there die before age 5, and 6 million children suffer from chronic malnutrition. Armed conflicts have created a humanitarian crisis, and the country is enduring the second-worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded.   

Despite all these difficulties, families in the DRC now have one less major obstacle to raising healthy children.  

Health worker Nsiri Lowoso vaccinates three month old Zoe Nukandila as his mom, Arellete Ytshika, holda him at the Centre De Sante Le Rocher Maternity in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. ©UNICEF/UN0328788/Prinsloo “This remarkable public health breakthrough could not have been reached without the dedicated support of partners such as Kiwanis International,” said Barron Segar, chief development officer and executive vice president of UNICEF USA.

MNT predominantly occurs in the poorest and most inaccessible areas of the world. The disease remains a threat in 12 countries: Afghanistan, Angola, the Central African Republic, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen.

Once MNT is contracted, the fatality rate can be as high as 100 percent without hospital care. In fact, the disease causes infants to die in excruciating pain within days of delivery.  

However, the disease is surprisingly easy to prevent through immunization and hygienic birth practices. In fact, a series of three shots provides immunity to a woman and all her future children. UNICEF has a goal of immunizing women of reproductive age in age in high-risk areas of the 12 remaining countries by the end of 2020.  

The money Kiwanis is raising pays for vaccinations, as well as transportation, volunteer training, monitoring and supervision. Raised funds also pay health care workers and skilled birthing attendants — so that mothers give birth in clean, safe environments.  

 Kiwanis International is committed to meeting the health and vaccination needs of mothers and children around the world so that no child dies a needless, preventable death.   

The need to fulfill pledges is as urgent as ever. Make a gift today! Go to TheEliminateProject.org/give to donate.

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