Gemma Parkin reports from Ivory Coast and sees first-hand the impact of the UNICEF and Pampers 1 pack = 1 vaccine campaign for mothers.
Karidjitou is seven months pregnant with her second child. Thanks to the 1 pack = 1 vaccine campaign, she's been protected from tetanus © UNICEF/2012
Wherever you live, pregnancy can be a daunting experience and preparing for the birth can demand a complete change of lifestyle. Old habits suddenly have enormous consequences and the correct advice can be life-saving.
Recently I visited mums in Ivory Coast who have been protected against Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus (MNT) thanks to the UNICEF and Pampers 1 pack = 1 vaccine campaign. It struck me that all pregnant women are afraid about the impending birth, no matter where they live. But the reasons for this fear are very different.
The mums I spoke to laughed at my fears about the pain of childbirth. One midwife summed it up when she said: "In Africa, we want to feel the pain. We want to remember it every time we look at our child. Only then can we feel proud." I'd rather be hypnotised in a birthing pool any day. These Ivorian mums had a greater concern: simply surviving the birth with a healthy baby.
Alleviating fear and risk is about being informed of the medical facts in
order to keep you and your child safe during childbirth. UNICEF and Pampers' campaign has helped to protect 100 million mums and their babies from MNT, a
fatal disease often contracted if the conditions of the birth are unsafe. The
funding is vital, not just so UNICEF can buy vaccines, but to implement the
logistics, equipment and training necessary to deliver millions of
vaccinations. Additionally, UNICEF must also educate communities, because if a
mum doesn't realise the importance of being vaccinated, she isn't likely to
walk kilometres to the health centre to take part.
Some villages are simply too far from the nearest health centres for mums to
travel for their vaccinations. In these cases, UNICEF
takes the vaccines to them, storing them in cold boxes and travelling to the
most remote and rural areas either on a motorbike or by visiting communities in
our mobile health clinics.
Pampers funding is supporting MNT vaccination activities in 26 countries -
including Ivory Coast
- where MNT is still a threat. Pampers and UNICEF
have so far helped to protect 100 million women and their babies around the
world from maternal newborn tetanus by providing life-saving vaccines as part
of the "1 pack = 1 life-saving vaccine" campaign. However, the lives
of 130 million women and babies are still at risk from MNT. They are based in
some of the world's toughest to reach communities, so we need help more than
ever to protect those most in need.
Find out more
Gemma Parkin is a Media Officer at UNICEF UK.