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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 6, 2000 – The National)--- In response to a request by the Government of Papua New Guinea, the Japanese government has approved a grant of K 2.5 million (US$ 1,029,000) for the improvement of children’s and women’s health.

An agreement on the project was signed by Foreign Affairs Minister Sir John Kaputin and Japanese Ambassador Tatsuo Tanaka on Friday at the National Parliament.

Among the countries in the South Pacific, Papua New Guinea has the highest infant mortality rate, with 77 per 1,000 cases reported in 1996. During the same year, the maternal mortality rate was 370 per 1,000.

To address this situation, the PNG has placed a high priority on the improvement of family health services under its National Health Plan programs for 2001-2010.

The plan calls for the improvement and refurbishment of the cold chain system to enable the proper storage of vaccines to maintain their potency.

The Japanese grant will be used to purchase new refrigerators for the cold chain system. This improvement will support the expansion of effective immunization of children and mothers in the country.

The assistance provided by the Government of Japan and the cooperation from AusAID would contribute to the success of the project.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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