Tetanus vaccination campaign targets hundreds of thousands of women and girls in Cameroon
Yaounde, Cameroon, 6 November 2009 - A major campaign to vaccinate women and girl against tetanus will get underway in Cameroon from November 3rd to 7th targeting 1 million 250 thousand females.
Neonatal tetanus is the second most deadly childhood disease targeted by the national Expanded Programme on Immunization after measles with the support of UNICEF and other partners.
To avoid newborns being infected at birth, they must be protected while still in the womb, thus the only way to reach them is by administering the vaccine to their mothers before or during pregnancy
"Girls between 15 and 49 will be targeted. Effort is made to sensitize them through announcements and distribution of posters and leaflets to ensure a good turnout at the vaccination points," Dr Bechir Aounen, Child Survival Section Head in UNICEF Cameroon, said.
The disease is under-reported in Cameroon, statistics from 2007 show that 103 cases of neonatal tetanus were identified of which 51 were fatal.
The battle to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus by 2010 in Cameroon is being implemented through a 3-phase vaccination campaign. The targeted objective is to have less than 1 case per 100 live births in each health district in Cameroon. A total of 5 doses is required for a woman/girl to be protected throughout her fertile life.
The campaign will last 5 days. 50 districts out of 174 are at high risk of this type of tetanus in Cameroon. 2 doses of tetanus toxoid vaccine are given as part of the third rounds of the campaign. The 50 health districts at high risk are supported by UNICEF.
In addition to the vaccination, UNICEF is also promoting good hygeinic practices during deliveries, community sureveillance of tetanus, encouraging people to report cases and strengthening the routine of immunization.
43 countries accross Africa are organizing the immunization campaign of which 21 are in West and Central Africa.
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