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UN declares Myanmar free of maternal and neonatal tetanus

4 June 2010Years of persistent efforts to vaccinate all pregnant women in Myanmar against maternal and neonatal tetanus have borne fruit with the country now declared free of the disease, the second East Asian nation to have achieved that milestone status, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported today. Years of persistent efforts to vaccinate all pregnant women in Myanmar against maternal and neonatal tetanus have borne fruit with the country now declared free of the disease, the second East Asian nation to have achieved that milestone status, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported today.“The achievement came as a result of joint efforts of all the partners collaborating with the Ministry of Health, who worked hard for many years to reach this stage,” said Ramesh Shrestha, UNICEF Representative in Myanmar. “But it is also a reminder that the momentum needs to be sustained and routine immunization must be further strengthened to ensure maintenance of the elimination status,” he added.Myanmar’s status as a maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination country was confirmed last month by international experts through a process led by the UN World Health Organization (WHO). Viet Nam is the only other country in the region to have achieved that status.The achievement followed Myanmar’s systematic efforts for several years to reach all pregnant women with tetanus toxoid (TT) vaccines and making provisions for safe and clean deliveries throughout the country, as well as conducting extensive supplemental TT immunization activities with strong support from UNICEF since 1999 that targeted women of child-bearing age.The status validation process included a community-based survey of neonatal mortality rates due to tetanus in all children born from April 2009 to April this year in the townships selected for the survey.The community-based survey used standard WHO methodology and was conducted in the townships of South Okalappa (Yangon Division), Singaing (Mandalay Division) and Saw (Magway Division). The townships were chosen for survey through an extensive review process that indicated they were likely to have the highest maternal and neonatal tetanus burden.On 18 May, the results of the survey revealed that neonatal tetanus mortality was reduced to less than 1 case per 1,000 live births in the surveyed townships. The survey confirmed that the disease has been eliminated as a public health problem in those townships, as well as Myanmar as a whole.Neonatal tetanus is a form of generalized tetanus affecting infants during the first month of their life and is estimated to cause approximately 59,000 deaths per year worldwide. Maternal tetanus has a similar nature and affects women during pregnancy and, more often, following unclean deliveries and abortions. Since both share the same risk factors and means of prevention, neonatal tetanus elimination acts as proxy for maternal tetanus eradication.Between 1999 and 2006, some 6.7 million women of child-bearing age in Myanmar were targeted and more than 80 per cent of them were protected with two doses of TT. In 2007, review of relevant health indicators led to the identification of 60 and 27 townships respectively for receiving one and three rounds of intensified TT immunization activities for about 3 million women of child-bearing age. In 2008 and 2009, the targeted areas were further narrowed down and corrective supplementary immunization was administered in seven townships. The final 1 million eligible women were reached by additional mass TT campaigns.While the validation of maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination status by WHO experts is an important milestone, the partners will now need to make sure that this status is maintained. The Ministry of Health has already developed plans to sustain the elimination status by maintaining high protection levels against tetanus in mothers and newborns and controlling chances of contracting tetanus during and after delivery and birth.Despite the progress made since the late 1980s, maternal and neonatal tetanus continues to be a public health problem in many developing countries and can account for a considerable proportion of maternal and neonatal deaths in high-risk areas. Since 2000, 18 countries have eliminated the problem. Elimination efforts will now focus on 40 other countries. read more

Jaguar Land Rover scoops top environmental award

The coveted Climate Change Big Tick award was picked up by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) at the West Midlands Business in the Community (BITC) awards held in Birmingham last night.The Climate Change Big Tick is presented to businesses that take positive steps towards a sustainable future. JLR was recognised for its carbon reduction strategy, which focuses on reducing tailpipe and operational emissions and carbon offsetting.JLR is also shortlisted for the National Climate Change Award, the results of which will be announced at the Awards for Excellence Gala Dinner in London on 27 June.Commenting on the award, Executive Director Mike Wright, said, “Our focus on sustainability has achieved significant results across the business. Our manufacturing emissions have been reduced by 25% since 2007 while investment of at least £1.5 billion per year has delivered new technologies to reduce tailpipe emissions.“This award recognises the contribution our employees have made to achieving JLR’s challenging sustainability targets and will motivate us to deliver further improvements over the next few years.”Business in the Community Chief Executive, Stephen Howard, said, “I congratulate JLR on achieving their Big Tick. There has never been a better time to showcase that business can be a force for good – for the mutual benefit of both business and the communities in which they operate.”To find out more about how UK automotive is progressing towards an even more sustainable future, visit www.smmt.co.uk/industry-topics/sustainability/. Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) read more