UAE do­nates $120m for po­lio erad­i­ca­tion

FUND­ING COM­MIT­MENT AT 2013 GLOBAL VAC­CINE SUM­MIT FUL­FILLED

Gulf News - - Nation - Staff Re­port

The UAE has ful­filled its $120 mil­lion fund­ing pledge made at the 2013 Global Vac­cine Sum­mit in Abu Dhabi, the Global Po­lio Erad­i­ca­tion Ini­tia­tive (GPEI) an­nounced yes­ter­day.

The com­mit­ment was made by His High­ness Shaikh Mo­ham­mad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the UAE Armed Forces.

“We thank the UAE for its long-term gen­er­ous sup­port and un­wa­ver­ing ded­i­ca­tion to po­lio erad­i­ca­tion, and par­tic­u­larly the per­sonal com­mit­ment of Shaikh Mo­ham­maad Bin Zayed,” Dr Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus, direc­tor-gen­eral of the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO), said. “This is the kind of sup­port that will en­sure we reach ev­ery last child to com­plete the job and show the way to de­liv­er­ing health to all.”

Pak­istan as­sis­tance

Fol­low­ing the Global Vac­cine Sum­mit, the UAE ex­panded its role through the UAE Pak­istan As­sis­tance Pro­gramme (UAE-PAP). Through the Emi­rates Po­lio Cam­paign ini­tia­tive, the UAE has helped drive on­the-ground erad­i­ca­tion ef­forts within the most vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties in Pak­istan.

“The UAE’s piv­otal role in erad­i­cat­ing po­lio com­pletely is not lim­ited to be­ing a donor only, but ex­tends to in­clude its ca­pac­ity to con­vene key groups and pro­vide on-ground sup­port to de­liver vac­cines in the high­est risk ar­eas of Pak­istan,” said Mo­ham­mad Mazroui, un­der­sec­re­tary of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court.

In ad­di­tion to the $120 mil­lion, Shaikh Mo­ham­mad Bin Zayed pledged an ad­di­tional $30 mil­lion to po­lio erad­i­ca­tion, an­nounced by Bill Gates at the Ro­tary In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion in At­lanta, US, in June 2017.

With ad­di­tional com­mit­ments in 2011 and 2014, in to­tal, the UAE has con­trib­uted $167.8 mil­lion since 2011 to help end po­lio, with di­rect sup­port to Pak­istan, Afghanistan, So­ma­lia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Su­dan.

Po­lio is a highly in­fec­tious dis­ease that can cause life­long paral­y­sis, but it is en­tirely pre­ventable with vac­cines. Po­lio re­mains to be erad­i­cated in only three coun­tries: Afghanistan, Pak­istan and Nige­ria.

When the po­lio erad­i­ca­tion ef­fort was launched in 1988, 350,000 chil­dren were paral­ysed by po­lio ev­ery year across 125 coun­tries. In 2017, there were only 22 cases — the low­est num­ber ever recorded.

How­ever, a num­ber of key chal­lenges re­main. Reach­ing chil­dren with the po­lio vac­cine is ham­pered by hur­dles in­clud­ing dif­fi­cult ter­rain, in­se­cu­rity, and pop­u­la­tion move­ment.

Through the Emi­rates Po­lio Cam­paign ini­tia­tive, the UAE has helped drive po­lio erad­i­ca­tion ef­forts in Pak­istan.

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