Fighting Disease: Bangladesh
Reducing Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus
Until 1992, The Carter Center and the Task Force for Child Survival and Development worked in Bangladesh to reduce the incidence of neonatal tetanus, or lockjaw. Caused by a toxin called Clostridium tetani, maternal and neonatal tetanus is a primary cause of infant death during the first seven days of life in many countries.
The Carter Center, in collaboration with government and local health professionals, studied the beliefs and practices of midwives, who are birth attendants and child care providers, to improve the education of mothers about the need for immunization. Studies also evaluated birthing techniques that might affect the risks of neonatal tetanus, such as unclean surgical instruments or the failure of midwives to wash their hands before performing a delivery.
The Center also worked to improve collaboration among local ministry of health child survival staff and midwives to avoid or eliminate unsafe birthing and neonatal care practices, to establish antiseptic delivery methods, and to refer pregnant women and mothers with past histories of neonatal tetanus for immunizations.