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Japan commits $2 million to boost immunization in Haiti, bringing post-quake total for UNICEF to $8.5 million

TOKYO/JAPAN, 23 February 2010 – The Government of Japan committed US$2 million (JPY180 million) to UNICEF to reinforce immunization services for children and women in Haiti.  The timely contribution provides UNICEF with the much-needed equipment for the cold-chain system and funds for vaccines and immunization activities.

Since before the earthquakes, the Government of Haiti, UNICEF, PAHO/WHO (Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization) and other partners have been collaborating to immunize children against infectious diseases including polio, tuberculosis and measles in order to reduce the under-five mortality rate as part of the efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. According to the statistics, in 2008, 72 children out of 1,000 died before they reach the age of five. 

The contribution by the Japanese government through its bilateral aid agency, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), is expected to reduce the mortality rate for under-fives and pregnant women across Haiti.  In addition, the provision of the equipment for the cold-chain system and training will increase the immunization capacity of the medical and health institutions within the country.  Moreover, the strengthening of the immunization system will contribute to the management of risks related to outbreaks in post-quake Haiti.  

The latest grant follows the US$6.5 million of emergency grant assistance for UNICEF already committed by the Government of Japan for water and sanitation assistance as part of its response to the earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January.

The ceremony for the signing of the Exchange of Notes was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo on 22 February, with Hon. Koichi Takemasa, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Japan, and H.E. Jean Claude Bordes, Charge d’Affaires ad interim of the Republic of Haiti in Japan. 

The Grant Agreement was then signed by Mr. Bunkichi Kuramoto, Director-General for Latin America & the Caribbean Department of JICA, and June Kunugi, Director of UNICEF Tokyo.

“This valuable grant from the Government of Japan will make a much-needed contribution in re-establishing and strengthening Haiti's immunization system nationwide, including rehabilitating the cold chain and providing essential vaccines." said Ms. Kunugi. "Routine coverage in Haiti was historically low; even before the earthquake, only 42 per cent of children 12-23 months of age were receiving routine measles vaccine, and Haiti had the highest rates of infant, under-five and maternal mortality in the Western Hemisphere."

"Japan's assistance to the survival and health of children, and its major support to emergency response efforts in water and sanitation, will help Haiti's recovery by attending to the needs of children, who are always among the most vulnerable of every population.”

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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 further information, please contact:
Naoko Iwasaki, UNICEF Tokyo
Tel + 81-3-5467-4431




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