Japan commits to improve Zimbabwe health system
The Government of Japan has donated US$4, 8 million grant to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) for the procurement of children vaccines and programmes aimed at addressing violence against women and children.
The support for the UNICEF project titled, “Improving Child Health and Addressing Gender Based Violence,” will go a long way in helping Zimbabwe’s battle against high under five years mortality rate which stands at around 100 deaths per day.
Speaking at the announcement of the project, Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Yonezo Fukuda said Japan has been an active partner in the prevention of infectious diseases in children, particularly the under fives.
According to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey conducted in 2010 and 2011, Zimbabwe’s full immunisation rates have declined from around 80% in 1991 to 65% in 2011.
Low immunisation rates coupled with the reduced capacity of the country’s health sector over the past decades and a high prevalence of chronic malnutrition have contributed significantly to the high under five mortality rates in the country.
Ambassador Fukuda added that the specific objective of the grant is to increase immunisation coverage to at least 90% at national level by year end.
“We hope that this grant will help Zimbabwe achieve two of the Millennium Development Goals – MDG 4, the reduction of under 5 mortality by two thirds by 2015 and MDG 3 and the promotion of gender equity and women empowerment.
“We are fully committed to assist Zimbabwe in the attainment of these goals,” he said.
The support by the Government of Japan will be critical for the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) with which additional support from Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), the country plans to introduce the pneumococcal vaccine in July 2012 and the Rotavirus life due to pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Pneumonia and diarrhoea have been noted as the biggest killers of children under the age of five in Zimbabwe.
Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Country Representative added, “the introduction of the two life saving vaccines against these diseases are an important step towards ensuring child survival.”