BEIJING, 1 November 2012—The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that China has eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus—a major achievement to improve the health of mothers and children.
"The achievement came as a result of a number of different programmes in the Ministry of Health, other government sectors and partners working together for a joint goal to better improve the health of mothers and children and enhance the well-being of families and communities," says Dr Michael O'Leary, WHO Representative in China.
The primary strategies for eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus in China are implemented through the Ministry's Maternal and Child Health (MCH) programme through improvement of antenatal care and promotion of clean and institutional deliveries. This approach is supported by upgrading infrastructure and equipment in county and township hospitals, improving skills of obstetric staff, subsidizing hospital delivery in poor areas and providing transportation to hospitals in remote areas, as well as through health education and social mobilization.
The elimination was confirmed through a two-step process. First, a comprehensive risk assessment exercise for all prefectures was conducted in July 2012. Next, community-based validation surveys were conducted last month by China's health authorities, with support from WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), in two highest-risk prefectures: Hechi (Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region) and Jiangmen (Guangdong Province). (These two survey locations represent the two different epidemiologic contexts in which neonatal tetanus occurs in China.)
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