With help from organizations including Kiwanis, Mali is the latest country to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus.

By Erin Chandler

Kiwanis International joins organizations and individuals around the world in celebrating the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) in Mali. On April 24, UNICEF confirmed that Mali is the most recent country to achieve MNT elimination out of the priority countries identified in 1999 — those with more than one case of neonatal tetanus per 1,000 live births. 

MNT is a painful and deadly disease that disproportionately affects areas where poverty, lack of education and inadequate health infrastructure make unhygienic birth practices more common. Kiwanis partnered with UNICEF in its global campaign to eliminate MNT in 2010, and since then, newborn deaths from tetanus have dropped significantly. Twenty-eight of the 49 priority countries that have achieved MNT elimination have done so since Kiwanis became involved in the project. Prior to Mali, the most recent was Chad in 2019. 

In 2023, the Kiwanis Children’s Fund granted US$275,000 to UNICEF to help facilitate mass tetanus vaccination campaigns for women of reproductive age in countries such as Pakistan, Guinea and Yemen, where MNT remains a significant threat. The grant also funded the assessments and surveys that validated the elimination of MNT in Mali, and it will help strengthen the health systems there to ensure that MNT does not make a comeback. 

Support for UNICEF’s fight against MNT is just one way Kiwanis has furthered the cause of children’s health around the world. In June, the Kiwanis Children’s Fund’s Pediatric Medicine Support Grant Program awarded funds to help renovate a burn unit at a children’s hospital in Jamaica, add a pediatric play therapy room to a new hospital in North Dakota, U.S., and deliver comfort items to hospitalized kids in California, U.S. In addition, Children’s Fund grants and microgrants fund Kiwanis club projects like free clinics and health screenings, meal programs and accessible playgrounds every month in communities around the world. 

You can make a gift to the Children’s Fund today to make a healthier world possible for kids everywhere.