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Zimbabwe, 20 April 2012: Zimbabwe announces a US$4.8 million grant for child health and child protection from the Government of Japan

Zimbabwe, 20 April 2012– The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Inclusive Government of Zimbabwe today announced a US$4.8 million grant from the Government of Japan for the procurement of life saving vaccines for Zimbabwe’s children and for programmes addressing violence against women and children.

Of the $4.8 million provided by the Government of Japan, US$3.9 million will support the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) while US$451,050 will go towards addressing protection of women and children.

The support from the Government of Japan comes as Zimbabwe is currently battling high under five mortality rates. About 100 children are dying every day from largely preventable diseases.

Zimbabwe’s full immunization rates declined from around 80 percent in 1991 to 65 percent in 2011 (Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey 2010-2011).

These low immunization rates together with the reduced capacity of Zimbabwe’s health sector over the past decade as well as high prevalence of chronic malnutrition have contributed significantly to the high under five mortality rates in the country.

This new support provided by the Government of Japan will be critical for the EPI programme in Zimbabwe, since with additional support from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the country plans to introduce the Pneumococcal vaccine in July 2012 and the Rotavirus vaccine in 2014. These two vaccines are life-saving commodities that will help reduce the loss of life due to pneumonia and diarrhea.

The grant will help in expanding the cold chain system that is necessary to accommodate these new vaccines and to support ongoing activities on polio control and elimination including the procurement of polio vaccines for National Immunization days in June 2012.

“Pneumonia and diarrhea are two of the biggest killers of children under the age of five in Zimbabwe,” said UNICEF Country Representative Dr. Peter Salama. ”The introduction of the two life-saving vaccines against these diseases, are an important step towards ensuring child survival. We are very excited about this development that would not have been possible without the unwavering support of partners such as the Government of Japan.”

The Government of Japan has been steadfast in its support to the health sector, contributing more than US$14.8 million to the Expanded Programme on Immunization since 2006. Due to economic challenges, Zimbabwe has not been able to procure any supplies for the programme since 2003.

“Immunization is key to child survival,” said Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr. Douglas Mombeshora. “The contribution from the Government of Japan that we are receiving here today will ensure that every child in Zimbabwe has access to vaccines. We value the continued support that Japan has been providing to the health sector for many years now.”

In addition to the contribution to the health sector, the funding from Government of Japan will also support UNICEF and the Inclusive Government of Zimbabwe to support women and children survivors of gender based violence.

Through the grant, it is expected that at least 5,000 children and women will receive essential services by the end of this year.

“We are extremely proud as the Government of Japan for the contribution we have made to the health and social sectors of Zimbabwe’s economy,” said His Excellency, Ambassador of Japan, Mr. Yonezo Fukuda. “We remain fully committed to improving women’s and children’s access to basic social services and assisting Zimbabwe to achieve its health related Millennium Development Goals.”

For more information, please contact:
Tapuwa Mutseyekwa, OIC, Chief of Communications
Tel 263 4703941/42 , Mob +263  773216925 Email: tmutseyekwa@unicef.org

 

 
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