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Kiwanis, UNICEF join forces to eliminate tetanus

The ELIMINATE Project will protect 129 million mothers and future babies

Kiwanis International and UNICEF have joined forces to eliminate maternal/neonatal tetanus, which kills 60,000 babies and 30,000 mothers each year. The announcement was made by UNICEF Ambassador and actress Tea Leoni at the 95th Annual Kiwanis International Convention in Las Vegas.

The ELIMINATE Project: Kiwanis eliminating maternal/neonatal tetanus will focus on reaching the most vulnerable women and children in the world: those in remote and difficult to reach areas; conflict zones; and with little access to healthcare and safe delivery practices.

“With Kiwanis on our side, we will be able to eliminate tetanus from the face of the Earth,” said Caryl Stern, UNICEF president and chief executive officer. “I’ve seen how tetanus devastates families. Infants suffer, while mothers are unable to comfort their babies. We need Kiwanis to provide the final push that will eradicate this disease from the remaining 40 countries where it thrives.”

In Africa, Southern and East Asia, and other remote locations, maternal/neonatal tetanus (MNT) quickly turns the joy of a new baby into tragedy. MNT kills one baby every nine minutes. Its effects are excruciating—tiny newborns suffer repeated, painful convulsions and extreme sensitivity to light and touch.

“Kiwanis believes that no baby or mother should have to suffer the devastating effects of MNT,” said Kiwanis International President Paul Palazzolo. “Kiwanis will mobilize its nearly 600,000 family members to become a tireless advocate for these children and raise needed funds to defeat this deadly disease.”

MNT is easily prevented by a series of three vaccinations to women of childbearing age, costing roughly $1.80. With Key Club International members’ help, the ELIMINATE Project will raise $110 million over the next five years to provide an estimated 387 million doses of the vaccine.

But not only will The ELIMINATE Project protect women and babies from tetanus, the project also will create a path for other services, such as clean water, nutrition and other vaccines, to reach the world’s most vulnerable people.

Partnering with UNICEF, Kiwanis successfully completed its first global campaign for children, virtually eliminating iodine deficiency disorders (IDD). Kiwanis raised more than US$100 million, which helped change lives in more than 89 nations. The number of households estimated to be consuming iodized salt has jumped from 20 percent in 1990 to more than 70 percent, and the effort has been heralded as one of the most successful health initiatives in the world.

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The ELIMINATE Project: Kiwanis eliminating maternal/neonatal tetanus

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