Cuauhtémoc Ruiz, head of PAHO’s Comprehensive Family Immunization Program spoke about the possibility for a case of MNT occurring since elimination was proclaimed in the announcement, stating, “Because tetanus can never be eradicated, a single case of newborn tetanus in the Americas could still happen. In this case, countries should carry out a thorough evaluation to determine how the case could have been averted in order to prevent new cases.”
When speaking on this progress to eliminate MNT in the announcement, Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) said, “The elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus is proof again that vaccines work to save the lives of countless mothers and babies. Let us continue to protect the people of our Region by investing in strong national immunization programs that are capable of vaccinating all individuals and quickly identifying vaccine-preventable diseases.”
With the announcement of the elimination of the disease in Haiti this year, the Region of the Americas reached the regional goal of elimination of MNT. Five other diseases were previously eliminated in this region, starting with smallpox in 1971, poliomyelitis (1994), rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (2015), and measles (2016).
Although 43 countries around the world have eliminated MNT between 2000 and June 2017, 16 countries have yet to hit this important milestone, making efforts for vaccination even more important.
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