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Kiwanis, UNICEF take aim at tetanus

The Dougherty County Kiwanis Club’s Darlene Butler urges her fellow club members to get behind the Kiwanis International and UNICEF’s “Project Elimination,” which is designed to eradicate maternal and newborn tetanus. The disease is a scourge in many of the world’s developing countries.

The Dougherty County Kiwanis Club’s Darlene Butler urges her fellow club members to get behind the Kiwanis International and UNICEF’s “Project Elimination,” which is designed to eradicate maternal and newborn tetanus. The disease is a scourge in many of the world’s developing countries.

ALBANY, Ga. -- Kiwanis International and UNICEF have joined forces create Project Elimination with the aim of wiping out maternal and neonatal tetanus in the developing world.

“This disease claims the lives of nearly 60,000 children and a significant number of women each year,” the Dougherty County Kiwanis Club’s Darlene Butler, told the group Monday. “The effects of the disease are excruciating. Tiny newborns suffer repeated painful convulsions and extreme sensitivity to light before dying in a matter of days.”

To eliminate MNT, the Kiwanians and UNICEF have set a worldwide goal of raising $110 million by 2015 to immunize approximately 100 million mothers and their future babies.

“Three vaccinations are required and they cost 60 cents each for a total of $1.80 per woman,” Butler said. “This requires vaccines, syringes, safe storage, transportation and thousands of skilled staff and more. It will take $110 million and the dedicated work of UNICEF and every member of the Kiwanis family.”

The project began in late 2011 and thus far Dougherty Kiwanians have raised more than $2,000 of a stated goal of $58,000 by 2015.

“In September we want to get with all the other Kiwanians in Albany to hold a walk to raise money and focus attention on this disease,” Butler said.

Dougherty Kiwanis Club President Gail Carter agreed.

“This is a project that is important to Kiwanis,” Carter said. “And, as Kiwanians, we need to give and raise as much money as we can to this worthy cause.”

MNT results when tetanus spores, which are present in soil everywhere, enter the bloodstream. It is mainly caused by a lack of access to sanitary birthing conditions, unclean instruments used in cutting an umbilical cord and unclean postpartum cord care.

“Most mothers and newborns who die of tetanus live in areas of Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, where many women are poor, have little access to health care, have limited information about safe delivery procedures and continue harmful cord care practices,” Butler said. “If a woman is properly vaccinated against tetanus, she will have immunity through most of her childbearing years.

“Babies born to mothers who have been vaccinated are protected through the first two months of life.”