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Japan to donate $15.6mto fight polio in Afghanistan

By Akhtar M.Nikzad-KABUL: To fight the deadly disease of polio in Afghanistan, Japan government on Wednesday pledged $15.6 million to help in the eradication of the polio and prevent the spread of other vaccine-preventable diseases.

The donation would support the UNICEF efforts to provide live-saving vaccine drops for polio eradication and for the routine expanded program on immunization. Japan Ambassador to Kabul Hiroshi Takahashi and UNICEF Representative AkhilIyer signed the one-year agreement in the presence of Minister of Public Health FerozuddinFeroz. The accord will be implemented in coordination with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

These vaccines will be available free of charge at all health facilities and through polio campaigns across the country.JapanAmbassador said: “We believe that the healthy children forms foundation of the development of country, and Japan is one of the major donor countries which have had the consistent contribution to this project.”

Feroz said: “Preventing epidemic diseases through vaccination is a cost-effective way to protect our children against preventable illnesses. By vaccinating children regularly we can significantly reduce child mortality in Afghanistan.”

UNICEF Representative, Mr. AkhilIyer said “Provision of these vaccines will make a tremendous difference in our joint efforts to reduce infant and child mortality in Afghanistan. While great progress has been made in recent years, this country still has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, with one child in every ten dying before their fifth birthday. Together, we are working to give every child the chance to grow up healthy and reach their full potential.

Chief Representative of JICA Afghanistanoffice,Eiichiro Cho, remarked, “It is doubtlessthat2016 markas the most important year for Polio Eradication Initiative not only in Afghanistan but also globally”. He stressed that JICA is committed to assist the government’s effort toward eradication of the disease together with other development partners.

The Government of Japan grant will fund procurement of the following vaccines: BCG for the prevention of Tuberculosis, Tetanus Toxoid to prevent Tetanus for about 2.5 million women of child bearing age, OPV for polio, Measles, and Hep B for Hepatitis birth dose to reach 1.2 million children under the age of one. In 2016 polio campaigns will aim to reach 9.1 million children under the age of five.

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