In what experts hail as a ”significant public health milestone”, India has successfully reached its goal of eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus. WHO has declared India free of maternal and neonatal tetanus.
The elimination of neonatal tetanus is defined as less than one case in 1000 live births in every district across the country, said the WHO.
Abolishing a disease that was once responsible for 15% of deaths in the country is surely a matter of great pride. According to the experts, three major reasons for eradication of this disease were:
- The increase in Maternal tetanus immunisation rates
- Introduction of cash incentives for institutional deliveries
- Use of delivery kits that reduce contamination along with safe umbilical cord practices
The disease usually occurs in newborns through infection of the unhealed umbilical stump, especially when the stump is cut with a non-sterile instrument.
Nagaland was the last Indian state to achieve maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination.
According to WHO Deputy Regional Director for South East Asia, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, polio eradication in India had acted as a model to follow for health workers. “Since 2012, the Government of India has been applying the best practices of polio eradication for routine immunisation strengthening, focusing on areas with low immunisation coverage,” she added.