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Japan boosts child survival in Nigeria with $10.4 million

Contribution targets Polio Eradication, Routine Immunization and other Child Survival Interventions

ABUJA, Nigeria 10 December, 2010 - UNICEF today received a grant of US $ 10.4 Million for Child Survival programmes in Nigeria.  Donated by the Government of Japan, the grant is for polio eradication, routine immunization and the prevention of malaria. Ceremony of the Exchange of Notes between H.E. Mr. Toshitsugu Uesawa, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Nigeria, and Dr. Suomi Sakai, UNICEF Representative and the signing of Grant Agreement between Dr. Sakai and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) represented by Mr. Yoshitaka Sumi took place today at the Federal Ministry of Health in the presence of Prof. Christian Chukwu, the Nigerian Minister of Health.

Although Nigeria is making progress in reducing its high child mortality rate, some challenges remain that need to be addressed if Nigeria is to achieve the health MDGs. Childhood killer diseases are still rampant. Although great strides have been taken in recent times to ensure interruption of wild polio virus transmission in Nigeria and poliovirus transmission is at the lowest levels ever seen, there is no room for complacency. The level of child mortality can be reduced with simple interventions such as immunization and other high impact child survival interventions delivered in an integrated manner.

This year’s contribution from the Government of Japan will be used to provide Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) for use during Immunisation-Plus Days (IPDs). It will also be used to procure cold chain equipment to fill existing cold chain gaps in the context of new vaccines introduction as well as contribute to capacity building for Reaching Every Ward (REW) with routine immunization services. In addition, the grant will support the procurement of essential drugs (Albendazole tablets for de-worming and sulphadoxine pyrimethamine for intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women against malaria), that will be distributed during Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Weeks (MNCHWs) as well as contribute to operational cost of the MNCHWs.
“This will make significant contribution to Nigeria’s final push to stop the transmission of the wild poliovirus and the effort towards strengthening routine immunization including expanding the cold chain system for introduction of new vaccines as well as for institutionalizing Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Weeks  (MNCHWs) in Nigeria” said UNICEF Representative Dr. Suomi Sakai.

Since 2000, the Government of Japan has been a major donor supporting child survival interventions in general and infectious diseases prevention in children in Nigeria in particular, through the UNICEF/Federal Government of Nigeria Programme of Cooperation.

“I earnestly hope that this project will foster the welfare of Nigerian children” said, H.E. Mr Toshitsugu Uesawa, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Nigeria. “I encourage Nigerians to continue to take action to accomplish the MDG. As long as Nigeria maintains its ownership, Japan will be together with Nigerian people as a partner and a friend”.

About the Global Polio Eradication Initiative
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is spearheaded by national governments, WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF. Since the launch of the GPEI in 1988, the incidence of polio has been reduced by more than 99%. In 1988, more than 350,000 children were paralysed each year in more than 125 endemic countries. In 2010, 767 cases have been reported (as of 16 November 2010) in 19 countries.  Only four countries remain endemic:  India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The GPEI continues to face a funding gap of US$810 million to eradicate polio globally by 2013. For more information visit www.polioeradication.org

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 more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

For more information, please contact:
Geoffrey Keele, UNICEF, Regional Communication Specialist,
Tel + 234 (0) 9 - 461 6403




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