The government of Japan has extended grant assistance of JPY3,445 million ($31.4 million) to Pakistan for the extension of maternal and child health care facilities in Sindh. Notes to this effect were signed and exchanged between Ambassador of Japan to Pakistan Matsuda Kuninori and Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Affairs Zulfiqar Haider while the grant agreement was signed and exchanged between Chief Representative of JICA Pakistan Office Furuta Shigeki and Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ms Syeda Adeela Bokhari. Under the agreement, a new maternal and child health center will be established at Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS), Jamshoro, which is a public medical institution serving as the regional hub hospital in Hyderabad district. The maternal and child health centre will have the departments of obstetrics and pediatrics, including a labor room, an obstetrics ward, a neonatal intensive care unit, a maternal and fetal intensive care unit, a laboratory and outpatient consultation rooms. In addition, around 120 items of medical equipment including newborn incubators and ultrasonic diagnostic devices are to be installed. The project is scheduled to be completed by August 2024. With the opening of the center, access to maternal and child health services in the area will be substantially improved. For example, three years after completion, the maternal and fetal intensive care unit will have nearly 100 patients and the neonatal intensive care unit will have more than 400 patients annually. In addition, the annual number of deliveries and outpatients will also increase significantly. As a result, local patients will not have to travel a long distance to Karachi. For decades, Japan has put a priority on the health sector in the economic and social development of Pakistan, such as enhancement of maternal and child health, polio eradication, routine immunization and counter-COVID-19 measures. In the last decade prior to the project in Jamshoro, Japan has implemented several projects in Karachi and Islamabad in terms of maternal and child health including the project for the extension of Intensive Care at Maternal and Child Health Care Centre and Children’s Hospital in Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) (April 23, 2019, $33 million) and the Project for the Improvement of Child Health Institute in Karachi (December 21, 2012, $13 million). Furthermore, Japan has been supporting the polio eradication program in Pakistan since 1996. The grant and loan contribution from Japan has amounted to $226.37 million. As far as COVID-19 is concerned, Japan has extended a total of $23.5 million in grant to Pakistan for supplementing its counter-COVID-19 measures including delivery of diagnostic kits, disbursement of a total of $7.41 million to UNICEF, IOM, IFRC, UNHCR, and UNOPS for providing hygiene items, training health workers, providing alternative learning opportunities, etc., grant assistance of $9.5 million to NDMA for procuring medical equipment and grant assistance of $6.59 million to UNICEF for improving vaccine cold-chain. In addition to these projects, Japan and Pakistan agreed on debt deferral amounting to around $370 million for making fiscal space to fight COVID-19 in Pakistan. Through JICA projects, personal protective equipment and masks were provided to PIMS, WHO Polio Laboratory (Islamabad), and immunization project workers in KP province. Ambassador Matsuda said, “Provision of health and medical service is the most basic human necessities in every country across the world. Among them, women and children are still in a vulnerable position, which is reflected in the high maternal and infant mortality rate in Pakistan.” He added Japan will continue to provide assistance that will directly benefit vulnerable people in Pakistan. Furuta said, “A number of care facilities to treat mothers and babies with complications are very limited in Sindh. As a result, patients are concentrated in advanced medical facilities.” “This project will not only alleviate the pressure of tertiary hospitals in Karachi and Hyderabad but also open up opportunities for families from all over the southern part of Sindh, with improved accessibility and better chances of saving lives.” On the same day, the notes and grant agreement for the project of the Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS) was also signed for the commencement of the fourth batch of the project.