Niger was declared free of Tetanus on Friday after successfully combating the killer disease and reaching the required status which is one case per 100,000 inhabitants.
Unclean deliveries and umbilical cord care practices put both mother and child in danger of contracting Maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) making mortality rates are extremely high, according to UNICEF there is 100 percent chances of a child &mother dying in home delivery than are 10 to 60 percent at the hospital.
MNT cases have gradually declined in Niger, from 29 cases in 2006 to 8 cases in 2015 according to UNICEF.
Districts in Niger with low rates of tetanus immunization coverage and a record of at least one MNT in every 1000 live births were confirmed to have graduated to ‘low risk’ for MNT following joint efforts by the government of Niger, UNICEF and World Health Organization to eradicate the disease.
Immunizing mothers with tetanus vaccine, hygienic delivery and proper handling of the umbilical cord to ensure there is no contamination even in the common cases of home delivery has enabled the West African country to obtain the most wanted elimination status.
Niger joins 28 other African countries that have successfully eliminated Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus and they include Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, East Timor, Egypt, Eritrea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Unfortunately some other Africa countries are still battling with the disease citing challenges in reaching populations in need of the tetanus vaccines, lack of access to clean and safe delivery practices for locals and lack of effective immunization of pregnant women (pregnant women must be vaccinated with appropriate number of doses of TT vaccine by the time of their delivery).
There are 13 African countries still battling with the disease and they include Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, DRC (Congo), Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan.