Funding will contribute to reducing Liberia’s high under-five morality rateMONROVIA/LIBERIA, 13 November 2006 - The Government of Japan has contributed US$1.604 million to UNICEF to support life-saving child immunization coverage and provide almost 150,000 insecticide treated bed nets to protect infants and pregnant women from malaria. The grant will also be used to provide 780,000 doses of Artesunate and Amodiaquine (ACT) to care for children who contract malaria, Africa’s leading cause of under-five mortality.
“We are profoundly grateful to the Government of Japan for their continued commitment to assist Liberia’s vulnerable children,” said UNICEF Liberia Representative Rozanne Chorlton, at a press conference with Mr. Yutaka Nakamura, Charge d'Affaires in the Government of Japan’s Embassy in Ghana. Two senior officials from the Government of Liberia also participated in the Exchange of Notes ceremony in the Liberian capital: the Hon. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, Minister of Planning, and the Hon. Bernice T. Dahn, MD, MPH, Deputy Minister and Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
“This generous contribution from the people of Japan will support UNICEF’s interventions to sustain immunization coverage of Liberian children under one year of age at 85 per cent; distribute 147,840 bed nets in Lofa, Grand Gedeh, and Maryland counties; and supply 780,000 doses of ACT treatment,” said Chorleton.
Since 2002, the Government of Japan has provided UNICEF Liberia with more than US$14.2 million to support the prevention of infectious diseases and the reintegration of demobilized Liberian children formerly associated with the fighting forces.
“This high level of commitment not only reflects the strong partnership between UNICEF and the Government of Japan, but the will of respected donors to support the Government of Liberia,” said Chorlton. “The time is now for the donor community to support Liberia, and we thank the Government of Japan for their expeditious and generous action. UNICEF is also delighted to work as ‘One UN’ with our sister agencies, especially through the leadership of the World Health Organization, to support the impressive progress Government has achieved in protecting Liberian children from vaccine preventable diseases.”
With support from UNICEF, the Government Japan and other partners, the gains have been impressive. 2005 figures show that:
• Measles coverage has increased to 94 pre cent - up from 42per cent in 2004;
• DPT3 (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) coverage is up at 87per cent in 2005, up from 31per cent in 2004;
• Liberia is on track to be certified polio free – no cases having been reported for three-years.
“These positive results indicate that real progress can be achieved for children during Liberia’s reconstruction process; but this progress must be sustained if there is to be a substantial lowering of Liberia’s tragically high infant and under-five mortality rates, thereby meeting MDG Four,” said Chorlton.
Mr. Yutaka Nakamura said, “this new funding for UNICEF Liberia is part of my Government’s continued trust in UNICEF's capacity to deliver results towards the achievements of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Four and Five, which focus on child mortality and maternal health. Like the United Nations, the Government of Japan is accelerating its efforts to achieve MDG4 and 5 and has made a commitment to providing ten million bed nets to developing countries by end of 2007.”
The Hon. Minister McIntosh thanked the Government of Japan for the grant and said it will target the well-being, health and nutrition of children. “The Government regards the nation’s children as the leaders of tomorrow,” Mr. McIntosh said, adding that the grant was in support of the policy direction of the Government. He also expressed his satisfaction that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in the project, “as this will yield maximum results for our people.”
The Hon. Minister Hon. Bernice T. Dahn praised the Government of Japan saying, “By partnering with the United Nations and other major donors, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has worked to boost measles and DPT3 (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) coverage levels in Liberia to 94 per cent and 87 per cent in 2005, up from 42 per cent and 31 per cent in 2004. We have to work to sustain this coverage, and that’s a major reason why the partnership between UNICEF the Governments of Liberia and Japan is so important.”
Speaking of the Government of Japan’s support to the anti-malarial campaign in Liberia, the Hon. Dahn said, “Malaria is Africa’s leading cause of under-five mortality and it is the biggest killer of children in Liberia. This funding will provide treatments and tools that can help. Sleeping under insecticide treated nets can reduce child mortality from malaria by 20 per cent. Still, many child deaths occur at home, before access to life-saving treatments and prevention. Malaria is truly a disease of poverty. It afflicts primarily the poor, who tend to live in malaria-prone areas in dwellings that offer few, if any, barriers against mosquitoes. We have a lot more work to do with our partners to protect all Liberians from this destructive and deadly disease.”
For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Patrick Slavin, Communications Officer, UNICEF Liberia: Tel + 06 834-019, firstname.lastname@example.org