The agreement was formally signed by H.E. Mr. Hideo Sato, Ambassador of Japan and Ms Catherine Mbengue, UNICEF Representative for Afghanistan in the presence of Afghanistan's Minister of Public Health (MoPH), Dr. S. M. Amin Fatimie at a special ceremony today.
The grant will enable the Government of Afghanistan to procure essential supplies, including vaccines to prevent and control infectious diseases and to further accelerate the on-going polio eradication efforts. The funds will help bring in an estimated 21.7 million oral polio vaccine (OPV) doses, BCG vaccine for routine immunization, injection supplies as well as vaccine carriers to help reach remote areas.
“This grant will go a long way to sustain and strengthen the Government of Afghanistan’s Polio Eradication Initiative,” said UNICEF’s Representative in Afghanistan, Catherine Mbengue. “I would like to commend the tremendous achievement of the Government in reducing the number of polio cases in the country from 63 in 1999 to only 8 so far in 2008.”
“This is the result of the efforts and commitment of the Government and also of thousands of health workers, volunteers and social mobilizers working tirelessly in the field. UNICEF, WHO, Rotary International and all partners are determined to support this gigantic effort to make polio eradication a reality in Afghanistan and the world,” she said.
UNICEF has been working with MoPH to meet this challenge through social mobilisation and community engagement involving religious leaders, teachers, village elders, and community health workers in motivating families to get children immunized. The Japanese Funding is essential to the success of the initiative.
"Japan has been setting a high priority on the health sector over the past seven years and has been supporting the efforts of the Afghan government through UNICEF,” said Ambassador Sato. “I would like to express our deep appreciation for the wonderful work of UNICEF and the Ministry of Public Health in our joint efforts to eradicate polio in this country.”
Afghanistan continues to be one of the only four countries in the world where polio remains endemic and its eradication is a top priority for the Government. The Japanese funding will be used for district level planning; vaccine and immunization logistics; door-to-door polio immunization campaigns; monitoring and evaluation; advocacy and public information; and social mobilization and community engagement.
Routine coverage for the OPV is currently around 83%, but during polio campaigns like the ones to be funded through the Japanese grant, the coverage for Afghanistan, excluding the southern region, goes up to 95%. Coverage in the southern region continues to hover around 85% largely due to lack of security which hinders access to households.
Japan has been a long-term supporter of UNICEF’s work with the Government of Afghanistan, notably in the areas of health and education. Since 2000, the Japanese contribution to UNICEF in Afghanistan has been about US$ 90 million.
For more information, please contact:
UNICEF Kabul, Roshan Khadivi; firstname.lastname@example.org; +93 798 50 7110
UNICEF New York, Geoffrey Keele;email@example.com; + 1 212 326 7583