UNICEF: Urgent funding needs to fight MNT

Jennifer Morlan | Jan 08, 2020

          A young mother is vaccinated in Nigeria. Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin/UNICEF  

The fight against maternal and neonatal tetanus remains as vital as ever. Every day, babies are dying from a painful disease that has been preventable since the 1940s. Since Kiwanis International joined UNICEF in 2011, MNT has been eliminated in 27 countries, but mothers and babies in 12 of the poorest and hardest to reach countries in the world remain at risk. 

These countries urgently need funding and support from Kiwanis and UNICEF to carry out immunization activities. With appropriate funding, UNICEF will reach more than 15.5 million women of reproductive age. 

Central African Republic
The Central African Republic will conduct the first of three rounds of tetanus immunization campaigns in January. This round has been funded. However, UNICEF urgently needs US$735,000 to pay for the second round in March. Because of the time interval required between each dose, it is critical that UNICEF receive funding in order to protect 1.3 million women and their future children. 

South Sudan
South Sudan implemented the first round of a tetanus immunization campaign in July 2019 in 20 counties where mothers and babies are at high risk of maternal and neonatal tetanus. But in another 14 high-risk counties, the campaign had to be postponed because torrential rains made travel impossible. Although UNICEF has the funding to complete the first round in those 14 counties, UNICEF needs $1.29 million to conduct the second round in all 34 counties to reach 1.16 million women.  

Nigeria is fighting maternal and neonatal tetanus one region at a time. Through this approach, women and babies in the South East and South West zones have been protected from MNT. The country is now implementing immunization campaigns in its North Central and North West zones. The first rounds were completed in 2019, and funding has been secured to begin the second rounds early this year. However, Nigeria urgently needs $1.5 million to prepare for the third round of doses that will reach 6.4 million women.  

Immunization campaigns have not started in the North East Zone. It will cost a little more than $1 million to reach 1.5 million women with all three rounds. 

Immunization activity has been stalled in Somalia, where violent crime, civil unrest and terrorism is rampant. The government is also dealing with polio outbreaks and other competing priorities. Despite these obstacles, a meeting between its Ministry of Health, UNICEF and the World Health Organization resulted in a plan of action to fight MNT. The country needs $6.6 million to conduct three rounds of immunizations in 2020 that will reach 3.3 million women. 

Due to ongoing armed conflict, civil unrest and terrorism, organizing a standalone tetanus vaccination campaign in Afghanistan is not possible. Instead, Afghanistan will conduct a multi-antigen campaign that includes tetanus for 1.9 million women. UNICEF needs $700,000 for the second round. 

To continue our success against MNT — and sustain it for generations to come — we need your support. Give to protect a life today.


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