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Tetanus Eliminated From More Than 30 High Priority Countries, U.N. Announces

The U.N. “and its partners [on Wednesday] announced that tetanus — one of the most deadly diseases a mother and her newborn can face — has been eliminated in more than 30 countries with previously high rates of the illness,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Tetanus kills one newborn baby every nine minutes and almost all of these babies are born in poor families living in the most disadvantaged areas and communities,” the news service writes, adding that the disease is preventable with a three-dose immunization that costs about $2. “The broad-based Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination Initiative, in which various United Nations agencies participate, said that since 1999, over 118 million women of childbearing age have been vaccinated against tetanus in 52 countries,” the news service writes, adding, “Many of these women received their tetanus vaccine as part of a campaign which included other life-saving interventions for children — such as immunization against measles, Vitamin A supplements, de-worming tablets and information on umbilical cord care.” According to the U.N. News Centre, “In a news release, the Initiative said that despite the progress in over half the 59 priority countries, some 28 other countries have still not reached the elimination goal. The main challenges to eliminate the disease are a lack of access to communities because of insecurity, cultural barriers, competing priorities, and inadequate funding” (5/15).