Grant Aid to UNICEF for the
Project for Infectious Diseases Prevention for Children in Afghanistan
- With the objective of contributing to the implementation of the project for Infectious Disease Prevention for Children in Afghanistan, the Government of Japan decided to provide 540 million yen in grant aid to UNICEF and on December 18, 2003, an exchange of notes took place in Kabul, between Mr. Kinichi Komano, Ambassador to Afghanistan on the Japanese side, and Dr. Sharad Sapra, the representative of the UNICEF Office in Afghanistan.
- In Afghanistan the infant mortality rate is incredibly high, with one in four children dying before they reach the age of five, and an urgent issue requiring resolution is measures to counter the infectious diseases that account for the majority of these infant deaths. Of such diseases, polio occurs frequently in Afghanistan's neighboring countries of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, and given that infections are still being confirmed in Afghanistan, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) have identified it as a priority country for polio eradication. In addition, Afghanistan is currently in a situation in which standard preventive vaccinations against such diseases as measles, tetanus and tuberculosis are not being fully advanced due to the lack of such basic infrastructure as vaccination facilities, equipment and roads, and a lack of personnel to provide vaccinations.
Given this situation, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health of Afghanistan are promoting preventive measures against infectious diseases and Japan has also provided grant aid on two occasions since 2002 in support of such activities. With regard to polio, over six million children under five years of age have been given the vaccination since 2001, and as a result, the number of confirmed cases has fallen from 27 (2000) to 10 (2002). For prevention of six infectious diseases including tetanus, tuberculosis and measles, vaccination efforts have been continued with the aim of increasing the vaccination rate to 65%. The efforts include such measures as, by summer this year, opening a total of 720 vaccination centers around the country, and providing training to 1,400 personnel on how to give vaccinations.
Under such circumstances, in order to further promote measures to tackle infectious diseases including polio, the Transitional Administration of Afghanistan and UNICEF formulated a project for Infectious Disease Prevention for Children, and sought grant aid from Japan for the funds required to purchase the necessary vaccines for polio and tetanus, etc., and vaccination equipment necessary to implement the project.
- It is expected that the implementation of this project will result not only in a further reduction in occurrences of polio which has already reduced from 2001, but also contribute to the elimination of polio in the South-west Asian region as a whole by preventing the cross-border spread of infection among neighboring countries. It is also expected that the project will contribute to achieve the goal of a 65% vaccination rate for infants under the age of one, for vaccinations against six types of infectious disease.
- This grant aid is being implemented as a part of reconstruction assistance amounting to a maximum of US$500 million that was announced by Japan at the International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan and will be implemented over a two-and-a-half year period. This grant aid brings the total reconstruction assistance either implemented or decided by Japan to approximately US$477 million, and since the series of terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, the total of Japan's humanitarian assistance comes to approximately US$604 million that has either been implemented or decided.
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