Reaching the Last Mile Forum to take place at Cop28

Forum at Expo City Dubai will provide updates on progress being made to eradicate diseases

President Sheikh Mohamed met with Bill Gates in 2021 to discuss the Reaching The Last Mile portfolio of global health programmes. Presidential Court
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The Reaching the Last Mile Forum will take place on December 3 at Expo City Dubai, as part of Cop28.

The forum, which will be part of the global summit's first-ever dedicated health day, will assess the progress being made in the fight against polio, malaria and other neglected tropical diseases.

It will bring together global and community leaders, donors, NGOs and other stakeholders to create new momentum, innovation, and investment towards solving the climate-health challenges faced by last-mile communities.

The forum will present evidence on the effects of climate change on human health and infectious diseases.

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed wide disparities and weaknesses in global health systems, while climate-related natural disasters are disrupting the delivery of essential health services in vulnerable communities.

The forum will look at building health systems and focus on how to transform health systems and strengthen community workforces.

This year's event will also serve as the leading global convening on last-mile disease elimination for diseases such as polio, malaria, and NTDs. It will offer a platform to take stock of progress and seek new commitments and partnerships in support of elimination goals.

Financing the last mile is becoming increasingly difficult, with global crises, natural disasters and domestic politics continuing to consume the attention of governments.

The forum will explore obtaining new sources of funding from philanthropy, private-sector partnerships, and innovative financing.

Eradicating diseases

The UAE, in particular, has been at the forefront of eradicating tropical diseases.

Since 2010, the UAE has donated more than a quarter of a billion dollars in the fight against preventable tropical diseases such as Guinea worm.

President Sheikh Mohamed, in 2017 with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, launched the Reaching the Last Mile initiative – a 10-year, $100 million fund to eliminate river blindness and lymphatic filariasis in African countries.

In October, Sheikh Mohamed said the is an end in sight to polio.

In 1988, poliovirus affected 125 countries, but advancements in delivering healthcare to those in rural, often isolated communities and villages have led to a 99.9 per cent reduction in polio cases globally and it is currently endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In January, the UAE delivered a $5 million boost to an international campaign aimed at addressing the effects of climate change on efforts to eradicate malaria.

The Reaching the Last Mile initiative will provide investment over the next three years.

In June, Sheikh Mohamed and Mr Gates spoke about the potential to enhance collaboration and initiatives to combat global epidemic diseases such as polio.

Updated: October 19, 2023, 11:44 AM