Grant Aid to UNICEF for the Project for Improving the Control of Infectious Diseases and the Nutritional Status of Palestinian Children of the Palestinian Authority

June 3, 2005

  1. The Government of Japan has decided to extend a grant aid of 344 million yen to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) for the project for Improving the Control of Infectious Diseases and the Nutritional Status of Palestinian Children in the Palestinian Administrated Areas. Notes to this effect were exchanged on June 2 (Thu) in Ramallah between Mr. Jun Yokota, Japanese Ambassador to Israel, and Mr. Dan Rohrmann, Special Representative, UNICEF/Occupied Palestinian Territory.
  2. Vaccination programs in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian areas had been carried out by the Israeli civil administration office since the latter part of the 1950s, but as the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established in accordance with the 1993 Oslo Agreement, responsibility for vaccination in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was transferred to the PA in 1995. Putting emphasis on vaccination, the PA Ministry of Health improved the vaccination rates of children from 60% in the 1960s to about 95% in 1997. However, because of financial difficulties caused by Palestinian economic failure from such causes as the blockage by the Israeli military, increased demands for medical services resulting from a rapid population increase, and other causes, it is now difficult to get all children vaccinated.

    Since 1999, Japan has been helping the PA expand vaccinations, with a view to maintaining the vaccination rates in Palestine. Toward the end of last year, however, epidemic parotitis (mumps) of uncertain origin became rampant in the area centering on the northern part of the West Bank (Nablus), with sporadic rubella cases. It was also found in a serological survey that only two thirds of the children under five are immune to measles. Additional MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccination is therefore needed to prevent these diseases from spreading further.

    On top of that, the iodine deficiency rates of Palestine school children are more than 15%, and the rates are high in the southern part of the West Bank in particular.

    In such a situation, UNICEF has formulated the project for Improving the Control of Infectious Diseases and the Nutritional Status of Palestinian Children to give PA children additional vaccination against mumps, rubella and measles, decrease the infection and mortality rates of such diseases as poliomyelitis, and reduce iodine deficiency in children, and requested from the Government of Japan grant assistance necessary to purchase vaccine and other medicines. Japan is extending this assistance, recognizing that the improvement of the dire living conditions of Palestinians is vital to the advancement of the Middle East peace process.
  3. It is expected that this project will enable additional MMR vaccination to be given to about 1.2 million children (6-18) and BCG, polio and other vaccines to about 105,000 infants (0-1) in the Palestinian Administrated Areas, thus reducing mortality rates and improving health conditions of them by preventing infectious diseases. It is also expected that iodized salt to be produced in Palestine will reduce iodine deficiency, improve these children's nutrition, and contribute to improving the humanitarian situation in Palestine.

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