Canada to match funds raised by UNICEF Canada & Kiwanis to vaccinate moms & eliminate deadly killer of newborns

Partnership will eliminate Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus in Chad, Kenya and South Sudan

OTTAWA, Feb. 25, 2015 /CNW/ - Today the Canadian government announced a funding commitment towards eliminating Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus—matching every dollar raised by UNICEF Canada and Kiwanis Canada up to $2.5 million, making Canada the largest government donor to The Eliminate Project, a UNICEF-Kiwanis initiative to wipe this deadly disease off of the map.

"Canada's commitment to eliminating Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus in partnership with UNICEF Canada and Kiwanis will save countless newborn babies from an unimaginable, excruciating death," said David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. "This horrific disease wreaks havoc on newborn babies, causing severe spasms and making even their mother's touch painful. These deaths are simple and inexpensive to prevent, but almost impossible to treat. We're on the brink of eliminating this childhood killer and this funding is a critical step in making elimination a reality for five countries."

"Today's announcement is the kind of partnership that will save children's lives and continue to show that Canada and Canadians are champions for children around the world—something we can be incredibly proud of," said Morley. "Thanks to Kiwanis clubs and generous Canadians from coast to coast who support fundraising efforts at pancake breakfasts, benefit concerts and other events, more than $3.4 million has already been raised by Kiwanis in Canada to eliminate Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus, underscoring how Canadian communities have rallied to be lifesavers for the world's most vulnerable children."

The partnership announced today by the Canadian government will support a $5 million project aimed to eliminate this deadly disease in Chad, Kenya and South Sudan in the next 12 months, and make great strides in Pakistan and Sudan towards elimination. With this project, more than 3.4 million women of reproductive age will be reached with vaccinations needed to provide immunity and save their babies.

About Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus (MNT)
Tetanus is non-communicable disease caused by bacteria found in soil and animal excreta. In many developing countries women give birth at home without the support of a healthcare worker and without a clean, sterile blade to cut the umbilical cord. This can lead to tetanus poisoning in the newborn baby, causing severe spasms and an excruciatingly painful death. Human contact exacerbates the baby's pain, so a mother's touch hurts, leaving the baby to writhe in agony, unheld, for days until he or she dies.

Each year 49,000 newborn babies die from tetanus in 24 countries, equating to 134 deaths each day, or one every 11 minutes. In 2000, MNT was still a public health problem in 59 countries. In the last fifteen years 35 countries have officially eliminated MNT. 

Eliminating MNT is simple and inexpensive

  • It costs US$1.80 to vaccinate each woman of reproductive age. This includes the three vaccines needed for each woman, syringes and safe storage and transportation of vaccines. It also includes training for health workers and community education.
  • It costs an estimated US$427 to US$780 to provide health services to each baby once infected.

Keeping countries declared "MNT Eliminated" free from the disease

Government-led implementation, incorporation into national budgets, and UNICEF capacity building at local and national levels ensures that elimination is sustained through:

  • Childhood immunization with three doses of tetanus vaccines;
  • Immunization of pregnant women as part of antenatal care;
  • Skilled birth attendants present at deliveries to ensure clean birthing and cord care practices; and
  • Reliable surveillance or regular data reviews to identify and mitigate new risks.

Significant progress has been made in the elimination of MNT

  • In 2000 MNT was still a public health problem in 59 countries. By 2010 it was eliminated in 19 countries and since the 2010 launch of The Eliminate Project between UNICEF and Kiwanis, it's been eliminated in an additional 16 countries.
  • From 2000 and 2014, more than 122 million women were vaccinated against tetanus.
  • The annual rate of reduction for MNT since 2000 is 8.9 per cent, more than twice the rate of other preventable causes of child deaths which is 4.1 per cent.
  • The remaining 24 countries are in a position to eliminate MNT within the next two years, but need the funds to do so. Cambodia, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritania and the Philippines are all ready for validation of elimination in early 2015. Funding has been secured for Angola, DRC, Haiti, India, and Niger to eliminate MNT in 2015. Eleven countries will be able to complete vaccinations in 2015, and a further four in 2016, if funding is secured by early 2015.

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit


Image with caption: "A health worker giving a tetanus shot to a pregnant woman at an outreach site in Bangladesh. (CNW Group/UNICEF Canada)". Image available at:

For further information: Media contact: Tiffany Baggetta, UNICEF Canada, 416-482-6552 ext. 8892, 647-308-4806 (mobile),


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