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Child survival: Nigeria obtains N1.5bn lifeline from Japan

BySola Ogundipe
HOPE has been rekindled for the fortunes of child survival strategies and programmes in Nigeria, following the commitment of N1.5 billion (US$10.4 million) grant  by the government of Japan.

A statement from UNICEF stated that the grant will be used  to procure Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) for use during Immunisation-Plus Days as well as for routine immunisation and malaria prevention.

The statement said the grant will also be “used to procure cold chain equipment to fill existing cold chain gaps in the context of new vaccines introduction as well as contribute to capacity building for Reaching Every Ward (REW) with routine immunisation services.”

In addition, the grant will support procurement of essential drugs (Albendazole tablets for de-worming and sulphadoxine pyrimethamine for intermittent preventive treatment of pregnant women against malaria), that will be distributed during Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Weeks (MNCHWs) as well as contribute to operational cost of the MNCHWs.

Although Nigeria is making progress in reducing its high child mortality rate, some challenges remain that need to be addressed if Nigeria is to achieve the health MDGs. Childhood killer diseases are still rampant. Although great strides have been taken in recent times to ensure interruption of wild polio virus transmission in Nigeria and poliovirus transmission is at the lowest levels ever seen, there is no room for complacency. The level of child mortality can be reduced with simple interventions such as immunization and other high impact child survival interventions delivered in an integrated manner.

Exchange of Notes between H.E. Mr. Toshitsugu Uesawa, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Nigeria, and Dr. Suomi Sakai, UNICEF Representative and the signing of Grant Agreement between Dr. Sakai and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) represented by Mr. Yoshitaka Sumi at the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja. Looking on is Prof. Christian Chukwu, Minister of Health.

In the view of UNICEF Representative Dr. Suomi Sakai, “This will make significant contribution to Nigeria’s final push to stop the transmission of the wild poliovirus and the effort towards strengthening routine immunization including expanding the cold chain system for introduction of new vaccines as well as for institutionalizing Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Weeks (MNCHWs) in Nigeria.”

Mr Toshitsugu Uesawa, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Nigeria stated: “I earnestly hope that this project will foster the welfare of Nigerian children. I encourage Nigerians to continue to take action to accomplish the MDG. As long as Nigeria maintains its ownership, Japan will be together with Nigerian people as a partner and a friend”.

Sakai observed that the event happens every year since 2000 and the Government of Japan continues to be one of the most valued traditional donors towards advancing child survival in Nigeria.

“Although Nigeria is making progress in reducing its high child mortality rate, some challenges remain that need to be addressed if Nigeria is to achieve the health MDGs. Childhood killer diseases are still rampant. Vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, tetanus or whooping cough are also among the major causes of child mortality.
Although great strides have been made to ensure interruption of wild polio virus transmission in the country, the gains in recent times need to be sustained for the final push in polio eradication. The level of child mortality can be reduced with simple interventions such as immunization and the use of insecticide-treated nets to prevent malaria. The just concluded Federal Ministry of Health Joint Annual Review meeting with development partners indicated positive achievements made so far in the area of immunization to which the Japanese Government has over the years contributed immensely.

He said the  grant will make significant contribution to Nigeria’s final push to stop the transmission of the wild poliovirus and the effort towards strengthening routine immunization. It will support the expansion of the cold chain system for introduction of new vaccines as well as for the institutionalization Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Weeks (MNCHWs) in Nigeria. All of these will contribute to the efforts to increase the chances of the Nigerian child to survive.

“With this donation, the government and people of Japan have once again renewed their commitment to child survival in Nigeria. This large donation will contribute immensely to Nigeria’s drive towards achieving the health Millennium Development Goals by 2015.”


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