36 year old Miriam is pregnant with her seventh baby. She lives in Pelewa Town – a rural Maasai community in Kajiado County, Kenya – with her husband and their six children; three boys and three girls. Despite being heavily pregnant and taking care of her children, Miriam also cooks, collects water and firewood and looks after the family’s goats and cattle.
Miriam completed her full course of maternal and newborn tetanus vaccinations thanks to a health programme rolled out in her community supported by the Pampers Unicef 1 pack = 1 vaccine campaign, which protected her and her unborn child against the disease. She is planning for her baby to be delivered by Wilfred Muema, the Nursing Officer in charge at Piliwa health facility, as she knows this is safer than delivering her baby at home.
Among the Maasai, 80 per cent of home deliveries are managed by traditional birth attendants but this poses a danger for women as tetanus is a disease that can be easily contracted when women give birth in unclean conditions. Delivering babies at home using unsafe and unhygienic birthing practices, such as cutting the umbilical cord with unsterile instruments or handling it with dirty hands or contaminated dressings leaves both mother and baby vulnerable to maternal and newborn tetanus.
“It feels safer to go to the health facility,” Miriam says. “They know how to help deliver the baby and they have the equipment.”
Since 2006, the Pampers Unicef 1 pack = 1 vaccine campaign has helped fund vaccination programmes in countries such as Kenya helping to protect 100 million women and their babies from maternal and newborn tetanus and eliminating the disease in 16 countries. But despite the progress that has been made, more than 85 million women and their newborns around the world are still at risk from contracting the disease because they have not received the vaccines they need to keep themselves safe.