Viet Nam has eliminated maternal and neonatal tetanus as a public health problem, the Ministry of Health of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced in February 2006.
'We congratulate the Government of Viet Nam on achieving this critical goal for children and women, [which] demonstrates that life-saving vaccines can be delivered to the poorest and most marginalized communities,' said Anupama Rao Singh, Regional Director of UNICEF for East Asia and the Pacific.
Maternal and neonatal tetanus is preventable through hygienic birth practices and immunisation of women of child-bearing age with the tetanus toxoid (TT) vaccine. Immunising such women confers protection against the disease to their newborns and also protects them against maternal tetanus, an equally deadly disease. Unprotected newborns can be infected with tetanus due to unhygienic birthing practices, such as cutting the umbilical cord with non-sterile instruments or applying contaminated dressings.