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SD receives E20 million health grant from Japan

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By MABANDLA BHEMBE - SWAZI TIMES-22-Aug-2009

MBABANE –Efforts to improve health status in the country received a boost, thanks to a US$2.57 million (over E20 million) grant from the Japan Social Development fund (JDSF), to be administered by the World Bank.

The signing ceremony was held in Mbabane recently. The project is the result of a collaborative partnership between the Governments of Swaziland and Japan, and the World Bank.

According to a JDSF representative, this grant will finance critical maternal and child health inputs.

embodied

The representative said child mortality and maternal health are Millennium Development Goals and are priorities for the government of Swaziland as embodied in the Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Govern-ment’s Programme of Action (2008-2013).

Minister of Economic Planning and Development Prince Sihlangusemphi said; "We are resolutely committed to accelerating the improvement of health services, especially to vulnerable groups, including children, because we believe that our children are our future. This grant will go a long way towards helping government to achieve its goal of improving health services for its people. It is also testimony to our commitment to engage both home-grown, as well as international development partners to strengthen service delivery."

The project, to be implemented in the Lubombo region, focuses on an under-served area. The country’s maternal mortality ratio is 589 per 100 000 live births against a target of 140. The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is 38 per cent for women aged 20-24, peaking at 49 per cent for women aged 25 to 29 years.

Experts agree that engaging communities and focusing on mothers and children is vital for reducing the infection rate.

gateway

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ruth Kagia, the World Bank Country Director for Swaziland said; "Mothers are the gateway to family and child health. The project will help provide essential health care information and counselling to mothers and mothers-to-be. In partnership with the Government of Japan, the World Bank is pleased to support Swaziland’s efforts to strengthen these key areas".

Minister of Health Benedict Xaba has welcomed the project and assured commitment in supporting implemen-tation together with local development partners, especially the Family Life Association of Swaziland (FLAS), a leading health services NGO that will assist the Ministry of Health in implementing the second project component.

World Bank Health Specialist and project leader Kanako Yamashita-Allen said; "The project financing agreement signed is testimony to the excellent spirit of cooperation that exists between the Govern-ment of Swaziland and its development partn-ers.

"We look forward to a speedy and effective project implementation so that the project can achieve its sustainable development objectives," he said.


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