Maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination initiative still faces challenges


  • Heather Mason
  • Univadis Medical News
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The maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) initiative was launched in 1999 to focus on 59 countries at risk for neonatal tetanus. By 2018, neonatal tetanus (NT) cases decreased by 90 per cent and 45 countries achieved MNT elimination status, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Elimination strategies included;

  • Achieving ≥80 per cent coverage with ≥2 doses of tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine (TTCV), or tetanus-diptheria toxoid (Td2+), among women of reproductive age.
  • Achieving care at ≥70 per cent of deliveries by skilled birth attendants (SBA)
  • Enhancing surveillance for NT

Vaccine coverage has increased among women of reproductive age from 62 per cent in 2000 to 72 per cent in 2018. The number of NT cases worldwide decreased by 90 per cent from 17,935 to 1,803 between 2000 and 2018.

The percentage of deliveries attended by SBAs increased by from 62 per cent during 2000-2005 to 81 per cent during 2013-2018.

The MNT elimination initiative still faces challenges, however. Approximately 47 million women and their babies remain unprotected. Promoting institutional deliveries and ensuring the availability of clean delivery kits for every home delivery would help MNT elimination and reduce maternal and neonatal mortality, the CDC says.