Japan on Monday pledged $8.6 million to Afghanistan for the treatment of Tuberculosis (TB) patients, paving the way for ending TB in the country.
Ambassador of Japan Mitsuji Suzuka, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in Afghanistan, Richard Peeperkorn and JICA Chief Representative Takeshi Watanabe signed the 3-year agreement in the presence of Ferozuddin Feroz, Minister of Public Health, the Embassy of Japan said in a statement.
The project will be implemented in coordination with WHO and JICA, who has been rolling out technical cooperation projects in Afghanistan over past 13 years.
The funds will support continuous efforts by the Government of Afghanistan through WHO and partners to provide critical anti-TB medicines to treat drug-susceptible as well as drug-resistant TB.
The anti-TB medicines will be available for free at all health facilities and through DOTS programme across the country.
“Japan has long contributed the health sector, especially fighting against the infectious diseases including TB in Afghanistan," said Ambassador Suzuka at the event.
Suzuka said that Japan has the experience of overcoming spread of TB and now leads the global health cooperation.
"Because TB is the common threat of both Japan and Afghanistan, so far and from now on, Japan will continue to work closely with the Afghan government and international partners for anti-TB cooperation."
He said Japan’s brand-new anti-MDR-TB medicine will be introduced in Afghanistan.
"I hope our assistance and our technology will save more and more Afghan people from TB.”
Thanking the government of Japan for their support, Afghan Health Minister said: "“It has been more than four decades that the government of Japan supported the Ministery of Public Health especially in the Health sector, and more specifically TB Control Program in this country."
He expressed hope for the continuation of Japan's support in the future.
Receiving the grant, WHO Representative, Richard Peeperkorn, spoke on the success and challenges of this partnership for TB control.
“Through the grant assistance, we started our partnership with the people and Government of Japan to combat TB in Afghanistan in 2014."
Peeperkorn said that availability of continuous supply of laboratory diagnostics to detect TB and anti-TB medicines to treat TB has made a critical contribution to increase the number of people detected and treated during 2015-2016,
The majority of the TB cases were women” he said. “Despite many challenges, we must continue this good momentum and work together to put an end to TB in Afghanistan.”
At the ceremony Chief Representative of JICA Afghanistan Office, Takeshi Watanabe, remarked, “Infectious disease control has been a priority area of JICA’s assistance in Afghanistan."
"JICA’s long-standing commitment to TB control in this country actually dates as far back as 1970s, on this occasion with World TB Day just 4 days away, JICA acknowledges and congratulates the Government of Afghanistan and partners for the firm progress in TB Control," he said.
However, he added that they must not back off from the battle against TB. "We are hopeful that this grant aid will contribute to further advance of the program to relieve the people of Afghanistan of the burden of TB.”