Launch of a nation wide maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination campaign in Central African Republic
BANGUI, 1st October 2008 – The United Nations Children’s Fund in the Central African Republic (CAR) and a donor delegation from Spain launched the third tour of a major maternal and neonatal vaccination campaign in northern CAR on Tuesday, 30 September, aimed at vaccinating more than a million reproductive aged women across the country.
The Spanish Delegation was composed by Dodot representatives; one of them was the Spanish Ambassador for Dodot Estefania Luik, the UNICEF Committee for Spain and media. Dodot (which the Spanish branch of the well-known company ‘Pampers’) participates with UNICEF to help eliminate the neo-natal and maternal tetanus.
“Last year we were able to raise 8 millions of vaccines, we are sure that some of these vaccines came to CAR. We hope this year to raise much more to save mother and child lives”, said Ainara Marcos, Dodot Communication Officer, member of the mission.
The delegation had the opportunity to visit health infrastructures in the town of Kaga Bandoro, the prefecture of the Nana Gribizi region, and went to the village of Nana Outta to meet with health workers and to discuss with the population living in this conflict-affected area.
‘We we were able to show the delegation the results of their fundraising efforts, for which we are very grateful. Furthermore, it represented an opportunity for them to assess the situation and the problems that women and children are facing in northern CAR”, said Nicoletta Confalone, Head of the UNICEF Zonal Office in Kaga Bandoro.
Mortality in CAR can in many cases be attributed to preventable diseases such as Tetanus, said Dr Eli Ramamonjisoa, Head of UNICEF’s Child Survival Programme in CAR. “It is currently the seventh largest cause of death in CAR. It is thus vital that Tetanus is tackled alongside other diseases in order to save lives.”
The Under-5 mortality rate at 176 per 1,000, amongst the highest in Africa, means that one in five children do not live to see their fifth birthday. Maternal mortality rates are some of the worst on the continent (1,355 per 100,000) and HIV/AIDS prevalence (6.2%) continues to wreak havoc amongst populations, particularly those made vulnerable by chronic poverty and the ongoing conflict.
UNICEF is providing vaccines and sensitization materials for this event, the first of its kind in the conflict-affected state, in addition to supporting the campaign’s operational costs. UNICEF also continues to assist health centers across the country through the provision of supplies and staff training.
Tetanus is still one of the major causes of child illness worldwide. The neonatal form in particular, remains a significant public health problem in developing counties with the vast majority of children dying once they contract the disease. Immunizing mothers is an important intervention for preventing neonatal tetanus. There are about one million cases of tetanus reported globally each year, causing an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 deaths.