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Targeting Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus

New vaccination device could save thousands of lives

FRIDAY, Aug. 9, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- A new UNICEF campaign to vaccinate women in poor, isolated communities against maternal and neonatal tetanus could save the lives of thousands of women and children.

The campaign, which started in Mali in late July, is using a pre-filled injection device that makes it easier to immunize women in remote areas. The device is a single-dose, pre-filled syringe and needle that can be used by lay people.

Maternal and neonatal tetanus last year killed 200,000 newborns and 30,000 women in 57 developing countries.

"Introduction of a pre-filled injection device has the potential to greatly simplify the way this vaccination is given, making it possible to train non-medical personnel such as social workers and teachers to vaccinate women against tetanus," says Carol Bellamy, executive director of UNICEF.

"Our goal is the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus by 2005, and reaching women in remote areas is essential to succeeding," she says.

Women at risk have to receive at least three doses of the vaccine over a one-year period to be fully protected.

The first major use of the pre-filled injection device was from July 25-31 in Bla and Bougoni, two remote districts of the west African nation. It was expected that 118,000 women of childbearing age would be vaccinated.

The use of the pre-filled injection device will be extended to other areas of Mali and other developing countries later this year.

More Information

The World Health Organization has more on this topic.

SOURCE: UNICEF, news release, July 2002
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