The World Health Organization (WHO) announced this week that Kenya has achieved maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination (MNTE) status.

Image/Robert Herriman
Image/Robert Herriman

Speaking at the event before handing over the certificate, WHO representative in Kenya Dr Rudi Eggers said: “I applaud the Kenya Government for having attained elimination status of maternal and neonatal tetanus.”

“Kenya among other countries that have eliminated MNT need to maintain the elimination status by vaccinating women of reproductive age with tetanus-toxoid-containing vaccines (TTCV) and implementing clean practices during delivery.”

Dr Eggers said WHO estimated a 94% reduction in neonatal deaths from 1988 when an estimated 787,000 newborn babies died of tetanus within their first month of life. Today, 14 countries are yet to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus.

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Unlike other vaccine-preventable diseases, MNT is considered eliminated when there is an annual rate of less than one case of neonatal tetanus per 1,000 live births at the district level. Tetanus cannot be fully eradicated because the bacterium that causes the disease, Clostridium tetani, exists throughout the environment in soil and the feces of many different animals.