Accra, July 30, GNA- The Japanese Government on Friday signed a grant aid of 8.85 billion cedis to support this year's second round of the national polio exercise and insecticide treated bed nets for malaria control.
The grant was in response to the request by UNICEF to support the programme. It would be used to purchase six million doses of oral polio vaccines and 70,000 insecticide treated bed nets for pregnant women. This year's second round polio exercise would be conducted on October 8-10 and November 19-21.
Mrs Kazuko Asai, Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, who signed on behalf of her government, renewed Japan's commitment to support Ghana's health sector to tackle the prevention of infectious diseases like polio and malaria.
She noted that to have a healthy nation was a pre-requisite for developmental advancement and this should be the desire of all to strive for.
Mrs Asai said though Ghana had not recorded any wild polio cases since September last year, there was the need to intensify efforts and to ensure that there was no interruption.
Ghana experienced a decline in recorded polio cases till 2000 when one case was recorded in Bole District. There were no cases of wild poliovirus in 2001 and 2002 and just as Ghana was nearing eradication eight cases of paralytic polio were recorded.
Ms Dorothy Rozga, UNICEF Country Representative to Ghana, said the Japanese contribution represented about 50 per cent of the total cost of supplying oral polio vaccines for the second round of the National Immunization Days, which would be part of a larger synchronized effort to protect children and eradicate polio from the West and Central African region.
She said polio was poised to become the first disease of the 21st Century to be eradicated and relegated to history with continued support of partners.
"Malaria is still a leading cause of mortality among children under five years in Ghana accounting for 22 per cent. One of the key strategies of the roll back malaria initiative is to increase the proportion of children under five years and pregnant women sleeping under insecticide treated bed nets from the current level of eight per cent to 60 per cent by 2005."
Mr Moses Dani Baah, Deputy Minister of Health, who signed on behalf the government of Ghana, said Ghana was supporting the exercise with one million dollars and said there was gap of 800,000 dollars for the smooth running of the exercise.
He called on other health partners to support Ghana with funds for the running of the exercise.