Lacey Stone traveled to the Philippines to witness the tremendous efforts that UNICEF is undertaking to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) in the country of more than 7,000 islands. Through a partnership with Kiwanis International, UNICEF, along with government and health partners, is reaching the poorest, most neglected women in the Philippines with lifesaving health care.
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In more than 30 countries maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) remains a risk. U.S. Fund for UNICEF staff and a team from Kiwanis International will travel to the Philippines to witness firsthand UNICEF programs to eliminate MNT there.
Recently, I was honored to join our colleagues from Kiwanis International at a special event during the 2012 Kiwanis International Council in New Orleans that included more than 250 global Kiwanis leaders. UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Geeta Rao Gupta was the keynote speaker at a special fundraising dinner for The Eliminate Project. It was fascinating to learn of Ms. Rao Gupta’s background and how it has informed her life’s work to address the social injustices suffered by women and families.
Sierra Leone is consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous places for a woman to be pregnant and a child to be born. Part of the reason is that so many deliveries in Sierra Leone are still done by unskilled birth attendants, mainly at home. However, a series of three tetanus vaccine doses administered to a woman is all that is needed to protect her and her newborns from the ravages of this terrible disease.
We visited some of the country’s most remote districts to see how UNICEF and its partners are reaching the hardest to reach. We saw how the vaccinations are transported—often for hours on bicycle or motorbike over unpaved roads—to distant health units, watched vaccinators being trained, and witnessed women being immunized in clinics and schools. We also followed health workers door-to-door as they sought out women who had not yet been vaccinated and encouraged them to do so at their local clinics. Amazingly, this entire supply chain—vaccinations, syringes, safe storage, transportation, health worker training, and more—costs as little as US$1.80 per woman.
Our family has committed a pledge of US$1 million to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to fight MNT to save and protect thousands of children like Dani. We believe The Eliminate Project is our calling and could not find a better reason to stretch ourselves and give. We are honored to be asked to get involved and excited to commit our own resources to support Kiwanis and UNICEF’s partnership to eliminate MNT.
This past weekend, I was honored to attend Kiwanis International’s (KI) 96th International Convention. A delegation of USF and UNICEF colleagues traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, to help Kiwanis officially launch their global campaign for children, The Eliminate Project.