Abstract

Pakistan is one of the 34 countries that have not achieved the neonatal tetanus (NT) global elimination target set by the World Health Organization (WHO). NT, caused by Clostridium tetani, is a highly fatal infection of the neonatal period. It is one of the most underreported diseases and remains a major but preventable cause of neonatal and infant mortality in many developing countries. In 1989, the World Health Assembly called for the elimination of NT by 1995, and since then considerable progress has been made using the following strategies: clean delivery practices, routine tetanus toxoid (TT) immunization of pregnant women, and immunization of all women of childbearing age with three doses of TT vaccine in high-risk areas during supplementary immunization campaigns. This review presents the activities, progress, and challenges in achieving NT elimination in Pakistan.A review of the literature found TT vaccination coverage in Pakistan ranged from 60% to 74% over the last decade. Low vaccination coverage, the main driver for NT in Pakistan, is due to many factors, including demand failure for TT vaccine resulting from inadequate knowledge of TT vaccine among reproductive age females and inadequate information about the benefits of TT provided by health care workers and the media. Other factors linked to low vaccination coverage include residing in rural areas, lack of formal education, poor knowledge about place and time to get vaccinated, and lack of awareness about the importance of vaccination. A disparity exists in TT vaccination coverage and antenatal care between urban and rural areas due to access and utilization of health care services. NT reporting is incomplete, as cases from the private sector and rural areas are underreported. To successfully eliminate NT, women of reproductive age must be made aware of the benefits of TT vaccine, not only to themselves, but also to their families. Effective communication strategies for TT vaccine delivery and health education focusing on increasing awareness of NT are strongly suggested. It is imperative that the private and government sectors work cooperatively to report NT cases and improve routine TT vaccination coverage. 2012 International Society for Infectious Diseases.

International Journal of Infectious Diseases, Volume 16, Issue 12, Pages e833–e842

Eastern Mediterranean Pakistan Tetanus