Neonatal Tetanus in Port Harcourt

Author(s): Orumabo RS, Mbagbaw LT

Abstract

In a previous study on neonatal tetanus (NNT), we provided information on clinico-epidemiological data and reported a case-fatality rate of 60.3%. The present report covers a 7-year period, January 1984 to December 1990, and amongst others, focuses on tetanus toxoid vaccine (TT) coverage of pregnant women. The subjects were those with a diagnosis of NNT and other neonatal admissions. Total neonatal admissions, NNT admissions, neonatal deaths, and NNT deaths were: 4,315, 471, 727, and 221 respectively. The overall NNT case-fatality rate was 46.9%. The highest NNT admission rate was in the third quarter of 1984, with a significant decline subsequently except for the increase in 1989. The neonatal tetanus rate began dropping appreciably from 1988 although less than 10% of the mothers in 1990 received two doses of TT. The improper immunization of the mothers during pregnancy with TT is worrying particularly several years into the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), more so as the experience is not unique to Port Harcourt. We suggest intervention at the community level, operational research, and ethnographic studies to determine possible underlying factors to be carried out in all health zones of the country.

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