Japan commits $15.6m to preventing spread of preventable diseases in Afghanistan
The Government of Japan signed an agreement on Tuesday to donate USD 15.6 million with the aim to help eradicate polio and prevent the spread of other vaccine-preventable diseases in Afghanistan.
The funds will support efforts by the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, to provide live-saving vaccines for polio eradication and for the routine expanded program on immunization. These vaccines will be available for free at all health facilities and through polio campaigns across the country.
Hiroshi Takahashi, Ambassador of Japan, and UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan, Akhil Iyer, signed the 12 month agreement in the presence of Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, Minister of Public Health. It will be implemented in coordination with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ambassador Hiroshi Takahashi said, “We believe that growth of children in good health forms a foundation of the development of any country. Based on this belief, the government of Japan has been the only donor in Afghanistan to support this project continuously.”
Thanking Japan on behalf of the Government and people of Afghanistan, Dr. Feroz said, “Preventing epidemic diseases through vaccination is a cost-effective way to protect our children against preventable illnesses. By vaccinating children regularly we can significantly reduce child mortality in Afghanistan.”
Receiving the grant, UNICEF Representative, Mr. Akhil Iyer, spoke of the challenges that the funding will help to address.
“Provision of these vaccines will make a tremendous difference in our joint efforts to reduce infant and child mortality in Afghanistan. While great progress has been made in recent years, this country still has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, with one child in every ten dying before their fifth birthday. Together, we are working to give every child the chance to grow up healthy and reach their full potential,” said Iyer.
At the ceremony Chief Representative of JICA Afghanistan Office, Eiichiro Cho, remarked, “It is doubtless that 2016 marks the most important year for the Polio Eradication Initiative not only in Afghanistan but also globally. JICA is committed to assisting the government’s effort toward eradication of the disease together with other development partners.”
The grant by the Government of Japan will help to procure the following vaccines: BCG for the prevention of Tuberculosis, Tetanus Toxoid to prevent Tetanus for about 2.5 million women of child bearing age, OPV for polio, Measles, and Hep B for Hepatitis birth dose to reach 1.2 million children under the age of one. In 2016 polio campaigns will aim to reach 9.1 million children under the age of five.
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