From Monday 16th to Tuesday 24th May 2016, the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO and other partners will conduct a nationwide campaign on Measles and Rubella and a Tetanus campaign in selected counties. Yesterday I wrote about measles rubella campaign. You can read about it Here just in case you missed the post.
As promised yesterday, today my focal point will be Tetanus campaign. Just like Measles and Rubella, Tetanus campaign will also be conducted from 16th to 24th May 2016. The target for this campaign is girls and women of reproductive ages i.e. 15-49 years in Kilifi, Mombasa, Meru, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Baringo, West Pokot, Turkana, Samburu and Narok counties. Vaccination will be provided in all public health facilities in these counties and temporary posts set as immunization facilities. Ensure you visit any immunization posts near you for this life saving vaccine.
Tetanus is a serious disease caused by a toxin produced by bacteria called clostridium tetani which is found worldwide in soil, dust, feacal waste and manure. It is characterized by painful muscle stiffness and results in death if not timely and appropriately treated. Please note that tetanus is not transmitted from person to person.
People get infected when the bacterial spores enter the body through open wounds; multiply and produce toxins that cause tetanus. Although tetanus infects people of all ages, newborn babies are more at risk to tetanus due to the umbilical cord wound and weak immunity.
Maternal and neonatal tetanus is a deadly disease that can occur as a result of unclean baby deliveries or abortions and unhygienic umbilical cord practices like applying cow dung, soil or ashes to the wound and cutting the cord with unclean instruments e.g. dirty razor blades and knives. Neonatal and Maternal Tetanus deaths can be easily prevented through vaccination.
The specific sub counties targeted by this campaign are Rabai, Magharini, Changamwe, Likoni, Meru Central, Tigania East, Lafey, Banisa, Wajir North, Wajir West, Wajir South, Eldas, Dadaab, Hulugho, Marigat, Mogotio, West Pokot, Pokot South, Turkana West, Turkana East, Loima, Samburu North, Transmara East and Transmara West.
Why these specific sub counties?
The Ministry of Health monitors the number of cases of Maternal and Neonatal tetanus occurring in each sub county. Each case of Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus is reported to the Ministry of Health and using this information those 24 high risk sub counties were identified and therefore they are targeted for the Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus campaign.
Why Does this Campaign Only Target Girls and Women?
Maternal and neonatal tetanus are common fatal consequences of unclean deliveries and umbilical cord care practices. Vaccinating women protects them and their babies from tetanus. When girls and mothers are vaccinated, they pass the immunity to future babies.
Neonatal tetanus is called ‘the silent killer’ because the disease and death occur within the first 28 days of life; most infants suffer and die at home, without ever coming in contact with a health provider. The baby suddenly stops suckling, his/her body becomes stiff and irritable. The stiffness can be so strong that it may break the child’s spine and death follows in most cases.
Tetanus vaccine therefore protects against tetanus when a full dose is taken at specified time intervals. A girl or woman will need a full dose of 5 vaccinations whereas children should get at least three doses of the tetanus vaccine given in combination with other vaccines at 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks for maximum protection.
Tetanus vaccine is very safe, however few and mild side effects such as redness and swelling at the injection site, slight pain from the injection and slight fever may occur in rare situations.
Globally in order to eliminate tetanus the following strategies are used:
Routine vaccination of women during ante-natal clinic visits
Vaccination of babies.
Supplemental immunizations that target girls and women of child bearing age and – promotion of more hygienic deliveries and vaccination of babies.
Promotion of hygienic and safe deliveries.
According to the immunization programme administrative data (2015), coverage of Tetanus vaccination in pregnant women stands at 61%. In order to achieve the goal of eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus disease, the country must reach coverage of above 90%. This campaigns aims at increasing this low coverage.
My appeal today is for husbands, parents, guardians, teachers and all members of the public in those sub counties to support this activity and ensure that all girls and women aged 15 to 49 years are vaccinated against Tetanus disease.
#Healthy Mama, Healthy Baby Healthy Nation
#Every Mama and child counts!