FREETOWN, Sierra Leone, 29 December 2009 - The Japanese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, H.E. Ambassador Keiichi Katakami has exchanged notes with the UNICEF Representative to Sierra Leone, Mahimbo Mdoe for the Government of Japan's grant of 1.3 million dollars for the prevention and control of infectious diseases, in support of efforts by the Government to reduce child and maternal mortality in Sierra Leone.
"As a government, we are committed to lift Sierra Leone from the bottom of the Human Development Index. Reducing maternal and child mortality is therefore a crucial priority," said Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development Dr. Richard Conteh.
Vital elements for success
The goal of the project is to contribute to the reduction of child and maternal mortality by one-third by 2010 through low cost, high impact interventions from health personnel, families and communities.
These interventions will focus on malaria, acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention and an expanded programme on immunization as well as maternal and child nutrition.
"The Government of Japan highly welcomes the initiative to achieve such ambitious goals," said Ambassador Katakami. "We also agree that the participation of the caregivers, family and communities are some of the vital elements for the success of the project."
The project targets children under the age of five years, pregnant women and young mothers in all the 13 districts in Sierra Leone. About 1.1 million dollars will be used to procure bed nets and other essential drugs in order to reduce the prevalence of malaria and other preventable diseases especially among pregnant women and children under the age of five.
No better time for intervention
"The Right to Survival is one of the fundamental pillars of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; every child must receive the opportunity to live a healthy life," added UNICEF's Mahimbo Mdoe. "It has been proven that many of the interventions on child health such as vaccines, insecticide treated bed nets and hygiene promotions are low cost with high impacts. These interventions need to be scaled up nationwide in order to make a difference for the children of this country and this require continued commitment, support and investment from both the Government and its development partners."
The donation comes at an opportune time as there has been a recent surge in the incidence of malaria among children. The grant will be strategic in supporting government's efforts in addressing this killer disease in Sierra Leone.
The Japanese Government has donated more than 20 million dollars since 1998 to child survival and education in Sierra Leone, and is one of the key development partners in the country.