What is Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination?

Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus (MNT) is a life-threatening problem that occurs because of unhygienic conditions during deliveries. It also occurs because of unhygienic umbilical cord practices. This puts mothers and newborn babies at risk of infections which are extremely dangerous. This problem is mainly prevalent in low income countries with poor medical facilities. MNT deaths can be very easily prevented by 

  1. Practicing proper hygienic delivery and cord care practices
  2. Immunizing children and women with inexpensive vaccines that are available.

The MNT Elimination initiative aims to bring down MNT cases to such low levels that it would no longer be considered a public health issue.

Aspirants would find this topic very helpful in the IAS Exam.

How Many Countries are Still Facing Deaths Due to MNT?

As per the latest estimates of World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2019 there are 12 countries that have still not eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus. In 2017, WHO reported approximately 31,000 newborns died due to neonatal tetanus. On the brighter side it was a 85% reduction in deaths from the situation that was prevalent in 2000.

Can Tetanus be Eradicated?

No tetanus cannot be eradicated because tetanus spores are present in the environment worldwide. But it can be controlled through immunization of children, mothers, women of reproductive age, and promotion of hygienic deliveries and cord core practices. 

What is the Status of MNT in India?

India has been able to eradicate this disease. A disease eliminated signifies that the annual rate of its occurrence is less than 1 per 1000 live births.

Instead of a massive tetanus vaccination campaign, the government relied on a mix of strategies such as:

  1. If babies are delivered at healthcare facilities families are provided with cash incentives.
  2. Provide proper training to more healthcare workers.
  3. National Rural Health Mission was strengthened 
  4. Vaccination of pregnant women
  5. Communicating to the targeted audience on the requirement of reducing harmful practices.

The above details would help candidates prepare for UPSC 2020.

 

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