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Cairo - Japan donated $3,1-million (about R20-million) to the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) to support its polio eradication campaign in Egypt, the international agency's representative here said Monday.
With the new vaccination campaign "there's every reason to hope that within the next two years, Egypt will join the 93 other countries where transmission of the disease has been halted," Shahida Azfar told reporters.
According to Unicef statistics, polio cases in Egypt went down from seven in 2002 to one in 2003 and the virus could only be found in the Minya southern governorate compared with its detection in five governorates in 2002.
The Japanese funds will finance two days of immunisation for 10-million children carried out by the Egyptian health ministry nationwide next December and in the Spring 2004.
"Our aim is to have a full year without the disease," said Unicef spokesperson in Egypt, Simon Ingram.
Vaccines, refrigerators and other supplies needed to maintain the cold chain, to ensure the vaccines reach their final destination unaltered, will be purchased with the Japanese monies.
Japan's ambassador to Egypt, Kazuyoshi Urabe, handed the donation to Azfar during an official ceremony at the Egyptian health ministry, also attended by Health Minister Mohamed Awad Tageddin. Sapa-AFP