By Saidu Adamu, Jalingo.
The Taraba State Primary Health Care Development Agency (TSPHDA), in conjunction with UNICEF, has commenced a five-day campaign for the elimination of Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus in four local government areas of the state.
Mrs Mercy Maigoge, State Health Educator, disclosed this at an engagement with newsmen on the Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination (MNTE) Campaign on Sunday in Jalingo.
She said that the meeting was aimed at sensitising the media to the processes of the campaign currently going on in four LGAs of the state.
Maigoge said that Bali, Kurmi, Wukari and Yerro Local Government Areas were selected due to the high prevalence of the case in the council areas
The health educator said that engagement of the media was also to ensure a sustained community awareness and sensitisation for increased uptake of the vaccines by the targeted group of people with ages between 15 and 49 years.
Maigoge explained that the meeting was also aimed at engaging the media in field monitoring, documentation, as well as reportage, among others.
She stressed that the media was a key stakeholder to partner with, in efforts to attain the set objectives of the MNTE campaign.
Maigoge said that the first phase of the exercise, known as tetanus vaccination, would last for five days in the designated LGAs.
She urged the media to go out and monitor the full implementation of the vaccination during the campaign.
She said that available data had shown that the selected LGAs were performing below expectation with regard to the tetanus vaccination, thereby necessitating the campaign to cover up and raise the data to global expectation.
The UNICEF State Team Leader of Social and Behaviour Change, Jennifer Dabo, said that the elimination of maternal, neonatal tetanus (MNT) was a key focus of global public health policy.
She said that MNT was one of the six childhood killer diseases targeted for accelerated control in Nigeria.
Dabo said that the initiative was aimed at reducing maternal and neonatal tetanus cases to a level that the disease would no longer be a major public health problem, adding that the ideal situation was defined as the occurrence of not more than one neonatal tetanus case per 1,000 live births per year in every district.
“So, in a thousand births, at least they want to reduce neonatal tetanus to as little as just one, if it is possible,” she said.
The UNICEF official noted that in many communities, child deliveries took place under unhygienic conditions, putting mothers and their new-born babies at risk of a variety of life-threatening infections such as tetanus.
“Therefore, we should discourage the engagement of Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and advocate delivery at health facilities,” she said.
Dabo stressed that through immunisation of children, mothers, women of reproductive age and the promotion of more hygienic deliveries as well as cord care practices, MNT could be eliminated.
She recalled that in 1989, the 42nd World Health Assembly called for the elimination of neonatal tetanus by 1995 and the report showed that 12 countries had not reached the MNTE status.
“Activities to achieve the goal are ongoing in those countries including Nigeria,” she, however, said.