By Chioma Obinna
The United Nations Childrenâ€™s FundÂ (UNICEF), yesterday, received a grant of N1.2 billion (US $ 8.5 million) from the Japanese government for its child survival programmes in Nigeria.
The grant is for polio eradication, routine immunisation and the prevention of malaria.
The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Nigeria, Mr. Toshitsugu Uesawa, signed the grant with UNICEF representative, Dr. Suomi Sakai at the Federal Ministry of Health Abuja. Other representatives present at the signing of the grantâ€™s agreement are Ms. Kae Yanagisawa, Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) and the Minister of Health,Â Prof. Babatunde Osotimehin.
Speaking during the official signing, Dr. Sakai stated that although Nigeria is making progress in reducing its high childâ€™s mortality rate, someÂ challenges remain that need to be addressed if Nigeria is to achieveÂ the (health)Â MDGs adding that childhoodÂ killer diseases are still rampant.
According to him, â€œMalariaÂ aloneÂ isÂ responsible for one quarter of deaths of children while vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, tetanus or whooping cough are also among theÂ major causes of child mortality. In addition, the wild poliovirusÂ isÂ stillÂ endemic in Nigeria.â€