Vietnam is among more than 30 countries with high rates of tetanus in the past that have eliminated the disease, announced the United Nations (UN) and its partner on May 15.

The Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination Initiative, in which various UN agencies participate, said that since 1999, over 118 million women of child-bearing age have been vaccinated against tetanus in 52 countries.

Many of these women received their tetanus vaccine as part of a campaign which included other life-saving interventions for children – such as immunisation against measles, Vitamin A supplements, de-worming tablets and information on umbilical cord care.

Shortly after the Initiative was launched in 1999, it was estimated that over 200,000 deaths of newborns were caused by tetanus every year. By 2010, this number dropped to an estimate 58,000.

However, despite the progress half the 59 priority countries, some 28 other have still not reached the elimination goal, the Initiative said.

Tetanus is easily preventable with a vaccine administered to the mother. With at least three protective doses that cost about 2 USD, the mother and her future newborn(s) are protected for five years.

The Initiative is an international private-public partnership with the participation of national governments, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO) and various other organisations.-VNA