The government of Japan has donated $9.1 million in support of UNICEF’s drive to provide life-saving interventions with the collaboration of JICA, addressing urgent needs and rights of Afghanistan’s children and women, the Japanese embassy in Kabul said in a statement.
According to the statement, this grant will enable UNICEF and its partners to vaccinate more than 1.4 million infants as part of the expanded program on immunization (EPI), protect more than 10 million children under five years, and provide more than 2.8 million women of childbearing age with tetanus toxoid vaccine.
The aid package will also contribute to the sustainable development goal 3 (SDG3), to ensure healthy lives and promote the well-being for all children at all ages. Importantly, it will contribute to the global drive to eradicate polio, especially in Afghanistan, which is one of only three countries globally that has yet to stop polio, the statement said.
“Afghanistan has made tremendous progress towards reducing Under Five Mortality Rate, from 192 to 55 per 1000 live births from 2001-15. Most of the deaths in the first five years of life are preventable and provision of quality vaccines to all eligible children is one of the most cost-effective means for averting this preventable mortality,” Feruzuddin Feroz, the Afghan Minister of Public Health said as quoted in the statement.
“For more than ten years, the Government of Japan has been a strong partner to the Government of Afghanistan to ensure the availability of necessary vaccines for both routine immunization and polio campaigns,” he added.
Ms. Adele Khodr, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan, meanwhile, said: “We salute the People and Government of Japan for their deep and sincere commitment to improving the lives of the most vulnerable children in Afghanistan. We are extremely grateful for Japan’s enduring commitment and generous support which will not only save children’s lives, but will be pivotal in putting an end to polio.”
Ambassador of Japan, Mr. Suzuka remarked that “Children are treasures that support the future of the country. They are our hope. We must protect our children’s health with the utmost care. Japan has long history of cooperation for measures against infectious diseases in Afghanistan. When we try to get rid of diseases, prevention is the best measure to take.”
“I sincerely hope that Afghanistan will become a comfortable country for babies as soon as possible. To this end, Government of Japan decided to keep implementing this project with the cooperation of UNICEF,” he added.
Japan has been assisting Afghanistan’s nation-building efforts in various fields including security, infrastructure, agriculture, rural development, human capacity development, education, health, culture, and humanitarian assistance.
The cumulative Japanese assistance to Afghanistan since 2001 amounts to approximately $6.6 billion.