The government of Japan has signed a grant agreement with UNICEF, for 162m Japanese Yen (US$1.8 million), to support a project on “infectious diseases prevention for children in the Republic of Liberia.”
Mr. Keiichi Katakami, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Liberia, JICA Chief Representative to Liberia Mr. Kunihiro Yamauchi, and UNICEF Representative in Liberia, Ms. Isabel Crowley, exchanged notes and signed the grant agreement in the presence of Mr. Tornolah Varpilah Honorable Deputy Minister for Health & Social Welfare. Senior officials from the government and development agencies were also present for the event.
“The government of Liberia, with the support of development partners, has achieved important results for health in the last few years. But we need to work even harder, because too many children are still dying before they celebrate their 5th birthday,” said Isabel Crowley, the UNICEF Representative in Liberia.
“And UNICEF is very grateful to the government of Japan for their continued support to our efforts to save the lives of children.”
Liberia’s less than five child mortality still remains high at 133 per thousand live births. The grant assistance from the government of Japan will contribute towards reducing the under-five child mortality in Liberia.
It will specifically focus on improving the immunization status of children in Liberia through the provision of traditional vaccines. The funds will help strengthen the capacities of health workers in managing common childhood illness like acute respiratory tract infections, diarrhea and malaria.
According to a UNICEF’s press release, this grant will also support community based treatment of children under five with severe acute malnutrition in the counties of South East Liberia and contribute to the reduction of micronutrient deficiencies.
“The government of Japan is deeply committed to improving the maternal and infant health situation in Liberia,” stated Mr. Keiichi Katakami, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Liberia. “This is the critical basis for the reconstruction and development, and to ‘Lift Liberia’.”
Speaking at the grant signing ceremony, Deputy Minister Tornolah Varpilah expressed his gratitude to the government of Japan and UNICEF.
“This grant comes at a time when we need it the most. We will utilize the funds efficiently considering the PRS goal of reducing less than five child mortality by 15 percent by 2011,” Minister Varpilah added.
The present grant is a continuation of support from the government of Japan to the Infectious Diseases Prevention in Children project in Liberia since 2005, which amounts close to US$5.5m.
Their support has been crucial in procuring vaccines, injection materials and Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Bed nets for children and families in Liberia.
In the last 10 years, the government of Japan has become one of the most important donors to UNICEF and the government of Liberia in improving the lives of children and families.
In addition to the health sector, UNICEF and the government received close to US$15 million for education, water and sanitation, and protection of vulnerable children and families from violence, abuse and exploitation. UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.
The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.