Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus

In this article, you can read a brief about maternal and neonatal tetanus for the UPSC exam general science segment. Common diseases, especially if they have been in the news recently, are important for the IAS exam.

Neonatal tetanus is a form of generalised tetanus that occurs in newborns. MNT is a life-threatening problem that occurs because of unhygienic conditions during deliveries. It also occurs because of unhygienic umbilical cord practices.

It also happens because of lack of access to immunization and other maternal, newborn, and child health services. This disease can be easily prevented by hygienic delivery and cord care practices, and/or by immunizing children and women.

This disease affects the most poor and vulnerable sections of society.

MNT occurs mostly in developing and least developed countries and is very rare in developed countries.

As per the WHO, in 2017, more than 30000 infants died from neonatal tetanus.

MNT in India

India eliminated MNT in 2015. In 1988, 1.6 lakh young children died from tetanus. With persistent efforts in improving women’s health, pregnant women’s health, vaccination drives, etc. the country 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. Providing cash incentives to families for delivering the baby in a health facility
  2. Training more skilled birth attendants
  3. Strengthening the institutional health delivery systems including the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)
  4. Systematic vaccination of pregnant women
  5. Intensive behaviour change communication targeting communities to reduce harmful cord care practices

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