Government of Japan commits US$ 12.4 million to provide life-saving vaccines in Afghanistan

KABUL, 13 December 2016

UNICEF Afghanistan

KABUL, 13 December 2016 – The Government of Japan pledged $12.4 million today to Afghanistan to help eradicate polio and prevent the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases in the country. This is in addition to over $75 million of funding provided since 2010 to support the Polio Eradication Initiative and Expanded Programme on Immunization. His Excellency Mitsuji Suzuka, Ambassador of Japan, and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Afghanistan, Ms. Adele Khodr, signed the 12 month agreement in the presence of His Excellency, Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz, Minister of Public Health. It will be implemented in coordination with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). 
The funds will support efforts by UNICEF and partners to provide critical vaccines for polio eradication and the routine expanded programme on immunization. These vaccines will be available for free at all health facilities and through polio campaigns across the country.

“Japan has long been supporting the Afghan people as one of the largest donors in the health sector and has paid particular attention to the need to protect children, from both humanitarian and developmental viewpoint. For achieving self-reliance of Afghanistan, it is indispensable to nurture the future pillars of nation-building, to say nothing of the need to protect the most vulnerable generation. Japan will continue to work closely with the Afghan Government and international partners to help Afghanistan become self-reliant in the health sector as well,” said H.E. Ambassador Mitsuji Suzuka, speaking at the event.

Expressing thanks on behalf of the Government and people of Afghanistan, His Excellency, Dr. Feroz said, “The Government of Japan and UNICEF have been our main partners in immunisation over the years and we are grateful for the sustained investment by Japan which has been critical to strengthening and continuing routine immunization and polio campaigns across the country.”

Receiving the grant, UNICEF Representative, Ms. Adele Khodr, spoke on the success and challenges of this partnership for immunisation. “We have made tremendous strides in the right direction. Our partnership with the people and Government of Japan has made a critical difference to the survival of women and children in Afghanistan,” she said. “Child mortality rates have been almost halved over the past decade and the vaccination programme has contributed greatly to this success. Polio cases have also decreased from 20 in 2015 to 12 this year. Despite many challenges, we must continue this good momentum and work together to put an end to polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases.”



At the ceremony Chief Representative of JICA Afghanistan Office, Mr. Eiichiro Cho, remarked, “Infectious Disease control has been a priority area of JICA’s assistance policy for Afghanistan. We believe that access to quality vaccines is the key to realize universal health coverage,” he added. JICA is especially committed to support Afghanistan’s effort to eradicate polio. We acknowledge and congratulate the Government and partners for the decrease in the number of polio cases and the fact that Afghanistan is no longer exporting the virus. We hope this grant will contribute to stopping transmission and eventual eradication.”

The Government of Japan grant will fund the procurement of routine vaccines for an annual cohort of some 1.3 million children under one year of age. Vaccines include BCG against tuberculosis, Oral Polio Vaccine for poliomyelitis, Measles vaccine, and Hepatitis B. In addition some 2.5 million women of child bearing age will benefit from Tetanus Toxoid vaccine purchased through this funding.  This donation will provide 36 million doses of vaccines for key campaigns in 2017 representing more than 30 per cent of the entire 110 million dose requirement in that year.