Jerusalem, 31 October 2003 – The Government of Japan has donated US$2 million to UNICEF in support of the prevention of infectious diseases for Palestinian Children and Women in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).
"Immunization is a best buy in health. It is an effective means of reducing morbidity, mortality and disability among children”, said UNICEF Special Representative David S. Bassiouni. Immunization Plus is one of the key priorities of the UNICEF medium term strategic plan that would contribute to the global efforts to eradicate polio and in line with the Millennium Development Goals. Japan’s gift is an infusion not only of needed funds but of moral leadership in contributing towards improving the quality of life of Palestinian children. It recognized the right of every Palestinian child and women to basic health services which is central to poverty reduction and a core indicator of human progress.
The donation from Japan aims at supporting the Palestinian Authority in sustaining the over 95 per cent immunization coverage rates for basic Expanded Programme on Immunization antigens and to ensuring effective management of the national immunization programme in OPT. The funds will be utilized to secure vaccine supplies and safe injection equipment for the year 2004, to contribute towards improving the quality and efficiency of immunization service delivery and improved monitoring and evaluation of key national immunization programme activities. “Japan’s contribution will secure the rights of 400,000 Palestinian children aged 0-15 years and more than 80,000 Palestinian women of reproductive age to immunization services,” said David S. Bassiouni. The Palestinian Ministry of Health will be the main implementing agency for the project in cooperation with the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Child survival and development has been seriously compromised in the current conflict between Palestinians and Israel. More than 585 children were killed out of which 104 Israeli children and 480 Palestinian children were killed since September 2000. “Security and stability in the region must be secured for the sake of all children – both Palestinians and Israelis. There is no alternative to peace,” added Bassiouni. Reaching the hard to reach children with basic health services is a basic right for every child and a special challenge to UNICEF.
At the global level, Japan is among the largest donors to UNICEF. It was the second largest government donor in 2002. Beginning in 2002, UNICEF has expanded its collaboration with the Government of Japan beyond polio eradication and infectious disease (ID) control, and for the first time UNICEF received contributions for basic education since it first cooperation in 1998. At the local level, this contribution is the largest ever contribution from the Government of Japan to UNICEF – OPT. These contributions represent important breakthroughs that will strengthen and expand future UNICEF-Japan partnership.
* * *
For further information, please contact:
Monica Awad, UNICEF – Occupied Palestinian Territory
+972 (0)2 583 0013/4 (tel)