Government of Japan provides US$4.2 million to support maternal and child survival in Afghanistan

KABUL/NEW YORK, 9 June, 2007 - Health programmes in Afghanistan will receive a boost with a generous new grant from the Government of Japan under a new agreement with UNICEF. Through the Project for Infectious Disease Prevention for Children in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, over 7.2 million of Afghan's young children will benefit from US$ 4.2 million in Japanese funding.

The Project is part of the Government of Afghanistan's mother and child health and survival programmes, and will enable the procurement of essential supplies, including vaccines to control infectious diseases and for the on-going polio eradication effort.

Major polio eradication strategies to date have included National and Sub-National Immunization Days (NIDs and SNIDs), backed by the Ministry of Public Health, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Afghanistan is one of only four countries in the world where polio remains endemic and its eradication is a top priority for the Government. The Japanese funding will be used for coordination; micro-planning at district, provincial and regional level; advocacy; public information and social mobilization; training of volunteers; vaccine and immunization logistics; door-to-door polio immunization; and monitoring and evaluation.

UNICEF is providing support to the national vaccine storage facility (VSF) and six regional vaccine centres. Regional 'cold rooms' have already been established with Japanese support.

Japan has been a long-term supporter of UNICEF's work with the Government of Afghanistan, notably in the areas of health and education, providing an average of US$ 10 million in funding per year since 2003.

This new agreement will be formally signed by H.E. Ambassador of Japan, Junichi Kasuge and Representative of UNICEF Afghanistan, Catherine Mbengue in the presence of Afghanistan's Minister of Public Health, Sayed Muhammad Amin Fatimi on Sunday 10 June, at a special ceremony in the Warehouse of Dry Supply at Darwaza-e-Lahori in Kabul.

The inauguration of the Warehouse itself, built with Japanese support, will take place at the same time. The Warehouse is used for training, as well as the storage of dry supplies for immunization.

Media are invited to cover the signing ceremony.

For more information, please contact:

UNICEF Kabul, Roshan Khadivi;; +93 798 50 7110

UNICEF New York, Jessica Malter;; + 1 212 326 7412

Embassy of Japan in Afghanistan, Yasuo Kitano;; +93 799 332 198