Japan provides $ 1.9 million towards UNICEF’s maternal and child health programme in Upper Egypt
Cairo, January 23, 2007: Health services for mothers and young children in four of Upper Egypt’s most disadvantaged governorates are to receive a major boost thanks to a grant of nearly two million dollars from the Japanese government to the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.
Speaking at a formal signing ceremony in Cairo on Tuesday, the Minister of Health and Population, Dr Hatem El Gebali, said the agreement was evidence of a fruitful partnership between the government, Japan and UNICEF.
A total of four million children aged five and under are expected to benefit from UNICEF’s maternal and child health programme, which envisages the creation and equipping of four MoHP perinatal and neonatal centres in Qena, Sohag, Asiut and Minya. As well as offering a full range of services for pregnant women and nursing mothers, the centres will provide training and certification for health staff working in the region.
The grant also covers procurement of immunization supplies, and the introduction to the region of an integrated child-health strategy which aims to reduce death, illness and disability, and to promote improved growth and development among under 5s.
UNICEF Egypt Representative, Dr Erma Manoncourt, said that while Egypt had succeeded in recent years in reducing overall infant and maternal mortality, in parts of Upper Egypt young children and their mothers were twice as likely to die as those living in some urban governorates.
“I believe this grant will mark an important contribution towards the goal of ensuring that the women of Upper Egypt benefit from professional health care both in childbirth and in the critical first years of their young children’s lives,” said Dr Manoncourt.
Japan’s ambassador, Mr Kunihiko Makita, pointed out that the grant followed previous collaboration between his government, MoHP and UNICEF in the immunization campaign which led to Egypt’s being declared polio-free in February 2006.
“Although Egypt’s health indicators have been improving, more attention needs to be paid to Upper Egypt, where health services are lagging behind,” said Ambassador Makita.
Dr El Gebali acknowledged the issue but pointed to what he termed the “remarkable” measures adopted by the Ministry to upgrade the performance of national health services. These included plans to build some 350 new family health units across the country within the coming year.