Windhoek — The Minister of Finance Sara Kuugongelwa - Amadhila has commended the Ministry of Health and Social Services for its rapid reduction of child mortality, malaria related deaths, and mother-to-child HIV transmission rates.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila stood in for the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, at the exchange of notes ceremony of a US$1.5million grant offered to Namibia by the government of Japan. The ceremony took place at the UN headquarters between Namibia, the government of Japan and the United Nations Children's Fund, and is aimed at providing financial support to UNICEF supported programmes for children in the country. Kuungongelwa attributed the rapid reduction in child mortality to the provision of free health prevention services and the child welfare grant for orphans and other vulnerable children.
"We have a very high ante-natal care coverage at 95 percent, an institutional delivery rate of 81 percent and 83 percent DPT3 coverage for under one-year olds, but we still have to do more," she said. DPT3 refers to three doses of vaccine against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus and is commonly used as a measure of the availability of health services. She further commended the government of Japan for its contribution, which will enable Namibia to move forward towards her goals of providing equitable quality health services to citizens. The Japanese Ambassador Yutaka Yoshizawa pointed out that Namibia enjoys a per capita GDP of more than US$6 000, however malnutrition amongst children and pregnant women is still a big challenge, especially among the poor, a situation that is often aggravated by floods and droughts.
It is against this background that the donation was granted to assist the health ministry to ensure that children, and pregnant and lactating women are healthy and well nourished before, during and after natural disasters, especially in the emergency prone regions.
According to Unicef representative Michaela de Sousa, the grant will provide an opportunity for the up-scaling in capacity of health workers and frontline volunteers in response to emergencies addressing maternal, child health and nutrition issues. She also highlighted that the government of Japan is the fifth largest contributor to Unicef's programmes globally.
The seven regions that will benefit from the project referred to as, 'Bridging Critical Nutrition, Maternal and Child Health Service Gaps in 7 northern regions exacerbated by high levels of child poverty and frequent natural disasters' are Oshana, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Omusati, Kunene, Kavango and Caprivi. Japan has so far donated US$189.5 million for a wide range of projects to 35 countries and territories including Namibia. A few years ago Japan donated US$500 000 to Namibia for its polio outbreak response, immunisation and capacity development of health workers.