|© UNICEF Angola/2008/Hvass|
|At the signing ceremony in Luanda (left to right): Japan's Ambassador to Angola, Susuma Shibata, Angola’s Minister of Health, Anastacio Ruben Sicato; and UNICEF Angola Officer in Charge Geoffrey Wiffin.|
By Lone Hvass
LUANDA, Angola, 10 June 2008 – At an official signing ceremony in Luanda last week, the Government of Japan made a major contribution to help UNICEF continue its work with the Government of Angola on preventing infectious diseases among children.
The $4.3 million donation will be used for products and services needed to boost childhood immunization in Angola, feeding into an overall effort undertaken by the government to revitalize health services.
Specifically, the funds will be used to combat malaria and polio, employing techniques such as distributing bed nets and using solar-powered refrigerators to strengthen the 'cold chain' that preserved vaccines during transport.
Infectious diseases such as polio continue to strike children in Angola. Worldwide, polio is close to being completely eradicated, but one final push is necessary to make eradication a reality. The Government of Angola is currently stepping up its efforts to contribute to polio eradication.
As for malaria, which killed more than 1 million people globally last year, the trend is encouraging for Angola even as challenges persist. Between 2003 and 2007, deaths due to malaria in Angola were reduced by more than two-thirds.
This change can be attributed to a major effort in the nationwide distribution of long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets and the introduction of a new malaria medication, Coartem.
Commitment to child health
“Timely health services and clinical care for the child population of Angola is a prerequisite to ensure healthy growth of the nation as a whole,” said Japan’s Ambassador to Angola, Susumu Shibata, speaking at the signing ceremony on 6 June. “I am proud that my own country, Japan, is helping Angola in this regard,” he added.
UNICEF Angola Officer in Charge Geoffrey Wiffin emphasized the organization’s commitment to child health. “Immunization of children against infectious diseases is an absolute priority in UNICEF’s ongoing cooperation with the government,” he said.
Witnessing the ceremony, Minister of Health Anastacio Ruben Sicato said he was grateful for the international partnerships with UNICEF, Japan and others, and stressed the importance of supporting routine immunization.
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