Global ex­perts line up for health fo­rum

Khaleej Times - - NATION - An­jana Sankar an­jana@khalee­j­times.com

abu dhabi — The UAE has been play­ing a de­ci­sive role in the global fight against Guinea worm dis­ease and po­lio erad­i­ca­tion ef­forts since 1970s, ac­cord­ing to a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court.

Speak­ing ahead of the in­ter­na­tional health fo­rum — Reach­ing the Last Mile — Mo­bil­is­ing to­gether to elim­i­nate in­fec­tious dis­eases — that will be held in Abu Dhabi today, Dr Maha Barakat, who is also mem­ber of the Roll Back Malaria Part­ner­ship Board, said that His High­ness Sheikh Mo­hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the UAE Armed Forces, has con­trib­uted, till date, $235 mil­lion to erad­i­cate and con­trol de­bil­i­tat­ing dis­eases, in­clud­ing po­lio, malaria and Guinea worm dis­ease, among oth­ers.

Over 200 global health lead­ers will con­vene in the Cap­i­tal to seek in­ter­na­tional ac­tion to erad­i­cate in­fec­tious dis­eases like malaria, river blind­ness and lym­phatic fi­lar­i­a­sis, among oth­ers.

For the in­ter­na­tional med­i­cal com­mu­nity, the erad­i­ca­tion of po­lio and Guinea worm dis­ease is the next ma­jor health chal­lenge af­ter the global erad­i­ca­tion of small­pox.

Dr Maha Barakat added: “For the UAE, it is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the jour­ney started by our found­ing fa­ther late Sheikh Zayed, who was a firm be­liever in hu­man­i­tar­ian aid and help­ing peo­ple have ac­cess to clean and safe drink­ing wa­ter.

“Now, more than ever, we un­der­stand the im­por­tance of clean drink­ing wa­ter in pre­vent­ing many dis­eases. The UAE had started these ini­tia­tives in the ’70s. This fo­rum is a con­tin­u­a­tion of that jour­ney started by the late Sheikh Zayed.”

“In 1980, the world was de­clared free of small­pox, the deadly virus that claimed many lives. Now, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity can­not wait for the day to de­clare the same about po­lio and Guinea worm.”

Dr Barakat noted:“We are in the last mile, and it is cru­cial to keep the mo­men­tum till the end game. In the 1980s, there were 3.5 mil­lion Guinea worm cases, across 21 coun­tries. By Novem­ber 2017, we were able to bring it down to just 26 cases in two coun­tries.”

The fo­rum, held in part­ner­ship with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion and The Carter Cen­ter, will ex­plore what needs to be done to end po­lio and Guinea worm dis­ease, ex­am­in­ing new treat­ment meth­ods, tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances and chal­lenges.

The fo­rum will also see three big pledges for the cause, in ad­di­tion to an award cer­e­mony to hon­our the front­line fighters of this global fight against in­fec­tious and pre­ventable dis­eases.” Jim Kim, pres­i­dent of the World Bank, will de­liver the key­note ad­dress and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, will speak about us­ing tech­nol­ogy to solve health chal­lenges.

A ses­sion led by Reem Al Hashimy, cab­i­net mem­ber and Min­is­ter of State for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion, and Dr Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion, will fo­cus on the im­por­tance of ro­bust and tar­geted part­ner­ships to elim­i­nate in­fec­tious dis­eases.

Now, more than ever, we un­der­stand the im­por­tance of clean drink­ing wa­ter in pre­vent­ing many dis­eases. The UAE had started these ini­tia­tives in the ’70s. This fo­rum is a con­tin­u­a­tion of that jour­ney started by the late Sheikh Zayed.” Dr Maha Barakat, rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court

Im­age courtesy Twit­ter

Sheikh Mo­hamed bin Zayed re­ceives Nepal Pres­i­dent Bidya Devi Bhan­dari , who is cur­rently vis­it­ing the coun­try to at­tend the in­ter­na­tional health fo­rum that be­gins today. —

—Wam file

The UAE is a key player in the re­lent­less ef­forts of sev­eral Asian coun­tries, es­pe­cially Pak­istan, to erad­i­cate po­lio.

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