The Government of Japan has continued its commitment to reducing child mortality in Sudan, with the contribution tomorrow of US$5 million (¥596 million) to UNICEF, in support of disease eradication programmes in the country. The funds will be used to provide and essential package of primary health care services such as immunization of children and pregnant women, polio eradication campaigns, distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets to protect against malaria, and provision of anti-malarial drugs for children and pregnant women.
Yuichi Ishii, Ambassador of Japan to Sudan noted that in light of the perspective of human security, the prevention of infectious disease for children is one of the priority areas of Japan’s cooperation to the African continent. “Indeed, child health is one of the critical dividends of peace,” Ambassador Ishii further stated. In this regard, he extended the hope of the Government of Japan that this contribution will be utilised effectively in close cooperation among all stakeholders, including UNICEF, WHO, the Government of National Unity, and the Government of Southern Sudan. “The Government of Japan hopes that this contribution will assist child health: children themselves are indeed the future of the Sudan, which will pursue consolidation of peace,” Ambassador Ishii commented.
Welcoming the contribution, UNICEF Representative Ted Chaiban noted that the funds would improve the health status of millions of women and children in Sudan. “As a result of Japan’s support, we can expect that some 5.5 million people will benefit from a range of health services including purchase of vaccines and improved immunization services against diphtheria, measles, polio and tetanus, provision of anti-malarial bed nets and treatment, increased public education and information about disease control, and the training of health staff to better manage and monitor primary health care services.”
Notable steps have been made in recent years to reduce preventable diseases – Sudan has been polio-free for two years, while 3 million children have been vaccinated against measles in Southern Sudan since 2005. However recent data still indicates that less than one-third of children are immunized against all the major diseases, more than half of women are not protected against neo-natal tetanus, and less than one-fifth of families have access to bed nets to protect against malaria.
UNICEF Representative Ted Chaiban pointed to the importance of multi-actor approaches to tackling disease incidence in Sudan, saying “Since 2002, The Government and people of Japan have contributed more than US$ 16 million towards infectious disease prevent in Sudan. That contribution, matched by the leadership of the Sudanese health sector, the technical support of agencies such as UNICEF and WHO, and the backing of other international donors, has provided us an opportunity to re-energise the battle to improve child health.”
“In the coming year, this latest contribution will also feed into a new Accelerated Child Survival Initiative in Sudan,” Chaiban added. “This initiative will build upon some of the existing structures and capacity created in recent years – such as the immunization infrastructure – with the addition of regular health days in local communities, extended local health service delivery, and increased investment in the skills of community health workers to provide a more holistic package of services for women and children.”