Estimated 58,000 neonates die annually – Study

A study published in The Lancet medical journal has revealed that despite progress in maternal and neonatal health; globally, an estimated 58,000 neonates and an unknown number of mothers die every year from tetanus.

The study which was made available to Ghana News Agency on Friday observed that as of June, 2014; 24 countries were still struggling to eliminate the disease.

According to the study, maintenance of elimination needs ongoing vaccination programmes and improved public health infrastructure.

It said maternal and neonatal tetanus is still a substantial but preventable cause of mortality in many developing countries.

The study indicated that a case fatality from these diseases remains high and treatment is limited by scarcity of resources and effective drug treatments.

The study observed that the “Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination Initiative”, launched by World Health Organisation (WHO) and its partners, had made substantial progress in eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus.

It said sustained emphasis on improvement of vaccination coverage, birth hygiene, and surveillance, with specific approaches in high-risk areas, had meant that the incidence of the disease continues to fall.

The Lancet is the world’s leading independent general medical journal. The journal’s coverage is international in focus and extends to all aspects of human health.

According to the WHO in many countries, deliveries take place in unhygienic circumstances, putting mothers and their newborn babies at risk for a variety of life-threatening infections.

It said maternal and neonatal tetanus had been among the most common lethal consequences of unclean deliveries and umbilical cord care practices.

WHO said when tetanus develops; mortality rates are extremely high, especially when appropriate medical care is not available.

In 1988, WHO estimated that 787,000 newborns died of neonatal tetanus; thus, in the late 1980s, the estimated annual global neonatal tetanus mortality rate was approximately 6.7 neonatal tetanus deaths per 1000 live births – clearly a substantial public health problem

WHO estimates that in 2013, 49,000 newborns died from neonatal tetanus, a 94 per cent reduction from the situation in the late 1980s.

source : GNA