HomeHEALTHGynaecologists Sound Alarm as Tetanus Resurfaces Among Pregnant Women

Gynaecologists Sound Alarm as Tetanus Resurfaces Among Pregnant Women

Maternal health experts in Nigeria are expressing grave concern over the resurfacing of tetanus infections among pregnant women, attributing the alarming rise to low turnout towards receiving the tetanus vaccine. 

Gynecologists point to the preference of some expectant mothers to consult Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and their exclusion from the COVID-19 vaccination efforts as factors contributing to this concerning trend. 

This exclusion may lead antenatal women to perceive mandatory tetanus immunization as an option rather than a requirement.

Specialists emphasize that the tetanus vaccine, a crucial component of the antenatal package, is designed to safeguard both mothers and unborn babies throughout and after pregnancy. 

However, some mothers are reportedly reluctant to undergo vaccination. The National Primary Health Care Development Agency recently raised an alarm regarding the increasing threat of tetanus to pregnant women and their infants, urging urgent immunization to ensure their safety.

In 2018, the World Health Organization reported approximately 25,000 newborn deaths resulting from neonatal tetanus. 

Tetanus, caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani found in soil, dust, and manure, is not spread person-to-person but enters the human body through broken skin or injuries.

Physicians expressed concern that some women who seek immunization end up receiving only one shot of the vaccine, insufficient for complete protection throughout pregnancy. 

Dr. Babatunde Rosiji, a consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist and Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association, Southwest Zone, highlighted tetanus vaccine refusal as the primary cause of the resurfacing of tetanus cases in Nigeria.

Rosiji emphasized the importance of immunizing mothers to protect their babies, acknowledging that not all women access antenatal care, with some opting for Traditional Birth Attendants, particularly in Ekiti State. 

He underscored the critical need for awareness, emphasizing that neonates exposed to tetanus within 28 days of birth face a mortality rate approaching 100%.

While at least two vaccine doses are needed for the mother and child’s protection, the aim is to administer five doses to provide lifelong coverage for the baby. 

The experience with COVID-19 vaccinations, where choices were offered rather than mandated, has influenced some women to perceive tetanus vaccination similarly.

Rosiji stressed the need for heightened awareness campaigns that anti-tetanus toxin not only shields the mother but extends crucial protection to newborns, emphasizing the importance of overcoming vaccine refusal for the well-being of both mothers and infants. 

The medical community calls for combined efforts to educate and ensure widespread access to tetanus immunization, ultimately preventing the resurfacing of this potentially fatal infection.

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