Reaching Mothers to Reach Children

Years ago as a young doctor in Nigeria, I was drawn to a baby’s weak cry while I did my ward rounds that evening. After delivery at home, the mother had been rushed with her baby to the hospital.

The baby was not nursing and the cord was quite foul smelling with some sort of local mixture applied to it. The baby had contracted a deadly tetanus infection and was having muscle spasms and could not suck. The mother had not received the tetanus vaccine while pregnant and the delivery was not hygienic. Vaccinating pregnant women with tetanus toxoid allows her to pass on the protective antibodies to the child, which protects the child within the first few months of life.

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