MONROVIA, Liberia, 12 January 2006 -- The Government of Japan has contributed US$2.256 million to UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, to protect Liberian children from infectious diseases, including malaria and acute respiratory infections.
“We are very grateful to the Government of Japan for their continued commitment to assist Liberia’s vulnerable children,” said UNICEF Liberia Representative Angela Kearney, who represented the United Nations agency at an Exchange of Notes ceremony held at the Embassy of Japan in Accra, Ghana. “This generous contribution will make an enormous difference in helping Liberia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and other UNICEF key partners protect hundreds of thousands of children from malaria, acute respiratory infections, measles, and diarrhea.”
UNICEF will use Japan’s contribution to strengthen EPI services in health facilities in seven focus counties -- Bomi, Bong, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Maryland, Montserrado, and Nimba – and the impact is estimated to increase immunization coverage from 70% to 90%.
The funding is targeted to provide Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) services to more than 450,000 Liberian children and will fund training and supplies to strengthen the capacity of health care workers at the community level to treat and prevent childhood illnesses. To protect children from malaria, long lasting insecticide treated bed nets will be distributed to every child under the age of five and to all pregnant women in Lofa, Grand Gedeh, and Maryland counties. Pregnant women in the three counties will also be targeted to receive two-doses of the ant-malarial drug sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine.
“These three counties were badly damaged during Liberia’s 14-year civil war and are now areas that are expected to have a high return of displaced population and refugees,” said Japan’s Ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Masamichi Ishikawa. “Consequently, my Government is partnering with UNIICEF to help provide basic health care services to people who need support and protection as they work to rebuild their homes and communities.”
“The major cause of morbidity in Liberian children under the age five is malaria,” said Mr. Yoshiteru Uramoto, Director of UNICEF’s Country Office in Japan. “Use of treated nets has been shown to reduce deaths from malaria by about one quarter. In addition to reducing maternal morbidity, pregnant women’s use of treated nets helps protect infant health, as malaria contributes significantly to low birth weight. That’s a major reason why the Government of Japan’s contribution will make such a critical difference in saving young lives in Liberia.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Patrick Slavin, Communications Officer,
UNICEF Liberia, Cell # 06 538298,
MacArthur S. Hill, Programme Communications Officer,
UNICEF Liberia, Cell # 06 516182,