Abuja - The Japanese government has given a grant of 440 million naira to Nigeria for the strengthening of routine immunisation in the country.
The Deputy Country Representative of UNICEF in Nigeria, Mr Jacques Boyer, said this at a ceremony organised to acknowledge receipt of the grant on Thursday in Abuja.
Boyer said that the fund would be administered by UNICEF.
He said though Nigeria had made significant progress in boosting child survival strategies but a lot more needed to be done.
``While Nigeria has made significant progress in reducing child mortality rate, key challenges remain and will need to be addressed if Nigeria is to achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals.
``Childhood killer diseases are still prevalent and vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, tetanus, and whooping cough are among the major causes of child mortality.
``The level of child mortality can be reduced with simple interventions such as immunisation, which is a very cost-effective child survival strategy.
``It is clear that sustained action is needed if Nigeria is to achieve MDGs 4 by 2015. This includes effective interruption of transmission of Wild Polio Virus, through a strong routine immunisation system and intensive periodic supplementary immunisation activities.”
Boyer said that for Nigeria to reduce under-five deaths, integrated packages of primary health services must be made available to all Nigerians, especially women and children.
He said that the grant would support facilitation and monitoring of health sector performance, to ensure that unimmunised children were reached by 2013.
The Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Ryuichi Shoji, commended Nigeria for its drive towards reducing deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases.
He said that the government of Japan was a signatory to the coalition on ending polio in the country and would, therefore, remain committed to eradicating the childhood killer diseases.
``Nigeria has made considerable progress in reducing the number of polio victims in the past decade. I commend the leaders of Nigeria and their determination to redouble its efforts to deliver on the promises to end polio.
``Japan is proud of being a partner to such a country. In relation to infectious diseases in Nigeria, Japan also contributes to the malaria prevention programme in Nigeria by providing 2.5 million U.S dollars through UNICEF this year.
``In addition, earlier this week, Japan signed a grant with the National Planning Commission, to provide 440 million Naira to donate wheelchairs and walking support wheels for the welfare of those who require mobility aids.”
Responding, the Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu, expressed gratitude to the people of Japan for their support to Nigeria.
He commended UNICEF for its activities at helping children worldwide and restated government’s commitment to combat polio by December 2013.
``We shall continue to pursue the issue as government regarding the MDGs goal 4, which has to do with our children and in particular we are serious about prevention of diseases,
``Yes there will also continue to be challenges, in the area of polio, we have continued to see new challenges even as we are determined that this year, by December, totally, there will be zero transmission of wild polio virus.
``President Goodluck Jonathan is very committed; UNICEF is aware they are committed; Japan is very much aware that he is one President that is very much committed.
``Every quarter, he presides over a meeting just to discuss polio, that tells you that he is personally driving the process he has done everything he should do, he has doubled financial commitment towards the fight against polio.”