UNICEF is to introduce a new
health technology, which may help to eliminate maternal and neonatal
tetanus. The launch of Tetanus Toxoid Uniject in Mali from July
24-31, as part of a global effort to eliminate maternal and
neo-natal tetanus will change the way immunizations are
Neo-natal tetanus is a disease that attacks the newborn through the
umbilical cord during cutting or dressing. In many developing
countries births are unattended and the cutting of the umbilical
cord is done with crude instruments like old razors or kitchen
knives, leading to tetanus which is responsible for neonatal deaths
and infant mortality. But if the mother is vaccinated, neo-natal
tetanus need not occur.
The Uniject device is a prefilled, single-dose injection device
containing Tetanus toxoid (TT) specifically designed to prevent
attempts at reuse. It combines the biological product (or a drug),
syringe, and the needle packaged in a sterile sealed pouch. Uniject
devices are available in 0.25, 0.5 and 1.0 ml dose sizes and can be
ordered with any standard needle size. This will be the first time
globally that Uniject will be used with the tetanus vaccine, and the
first time that non-health workers will administer vaccination by
Through immunization and hygienic birth practices, maternal and
neonatal tetanus can be eliminated globally. Yet in 57 developing
countries, tetanus continues to take the lives of 200,000 newborns
and 30,000 mothers each year. This is because it is often difficult
to reach women and children in remote communities as the vaccine
must be kept fresh and cold, and the vaccination can only be
administed by trained health workers. But with Uniject these
difficulties have been overcome:
Virtually anyone, even non-medical persons such as teachers,
traditional birth attendants and extension health workers will be
able to give the injection.
The vaccine can stay potent outside the refrigerator for up to
30 days. Uniject can only be used once, so that there is no risk
that the health worker or volunteer will re-use the needle.
The introduction of Uniject may dramatically increase
immunization coverage and significantly contribute to the goal of
elimination of maternal and neo-natal tetanus by 2005.
Mali is the first country in the world where Uniject is being
introduced. The first phase will cover 118,000 women of
child-bearing years in two districts. The project will be extended
to other countries where maternal and neo-natal tetanus is still
causing the death of thousands of babies and their mothers. The
(tetanus toxoid) vaccine will help save many lives in the developing
world by revolutionizing immunization. A combination of these
efforts should also ensure a broad-scale availability of a variety
of important drugs and vaccines in Uniject devices.
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DISCLAIMER: All information, data, and material contained, presented, or provided here is for general information purposes only and is not to be construed as reflecting the knowledge or opinions of the publisher, and is not to be construed or intended as providing medical or legal advice. The decision whether or not to vaccinate is an important and complex issue and should be made by you, and you alone, in consultation with your health care provider.
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