Dr. Rownak Khan, Senior Health Specialist with UNICEF, visited UNICEF supporters in Chicago on January 30 to talk about eliminating Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus (MNT) -- a deadly disease that kills one newborn every nine minutes.
In July 2013, the Midwest Regional Board of the U.S. Fund of UNICEF launched a two-year campaign to raise $3 million for The Eliminate Project, a partnership between the U.S. Fund and Kiwanis International to raise $110 million by 2015 to help eliminate MNT.
UNICEF’s Young Ambassadors in Chicago are part of that support, and they were active participants at the event. We asked two of them, Abby Dietlan (age 13) and Aidan Luce (age 10), to tell us about Dr. Khan's presentation.
What did you learn from Dr. Khan's talk?
Aidan: I learned that the goal of The Eliminate Project is to eliminate MNT by vaccinating women in countries where the disease is. Every day, 160 babies die from this illness, but this is an easy disease to prevent because we have the vaccine.
Dr. Khan talked about what UNICEF is doing and showed a map of the world where MNT is. She said that the number of countries with MNT is shrinking.
Did you learn anything surprising?
Abby: We learned the actual vaccine for tetanus is only 7 cents! Even cheaper than an app that you buy! Less than a gum ball! The whole vaccine package together [which includes delivery and health education] is $1.80--still cheaper than a Frappuccino at Starbucks!
So how does a woman get the vaccine?
Abby: Dr. Khan was a very nice lady, and we got to speak with her about her adventures trying to eliminate MNT. The one thing that stuck with me most is that the vaccine can be brought to the most difficult or remote areas. Dr. Khan spoke about how it took three days to climb a mountain on a donkey! Even though the vaccines had to be refrigerated, they still made the journey!
Once they arrived and the women got their first vaccination, they needed two more to be MNT-free for at least five years. The timing of the vaccinations had to be a certain time difference apart to be effective.
What else did you enjoy about the evening?
Aidan: I liked meeting new people and making friends!