The UAE has made another multi-million dollar commitment to eliminating one of the world’s most dangerous diseases.
The US$5 million (Dh18m) pledge was made to the Roll Back Malaria Partnership and announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
The announcement comes just a month before Abu Dhabi hosts a global health forum, which will look at efforts in worldwide disease elimination, including malaria, but also polio and River Blindness.
The UAE has been a long-term supporter of programmes to reduce the impact of these diseases, and this latest promise represents another three-year commitment.
Dr Kesete Admasu, chief executive of the Role Back Malaria Partnership, said the UAE was playing: “an essential role in supporting progress against some of the world’s most devastating diseases.”
He said: “The health investments made by global leaders like the Crown Prince have proven to be, and will remain, critical to building a healthier world.”
Malaria kills around 700,000 people every year, many of them children. It occurs mainly in tropical and subtropical regions, although in a rare case, the disease killed a four-year-old girl in northern Italy earlier this month.
A child is estimated to die from malaria every two minutes, with around half the world population of seven billion said to be at risk.
While a number of potential vaccines are being developed and tested, the cost to Africa alone, based on health care costs and lost days to work, has been estimated at US$12 billion (Dh44bn).
The RBM Partnership was formed in 1998 and has the goal of completely ridding the world of malaria. Within the next three years it hopes to declare another 20 countries malaria-free. The World Health Organisation declared the UAE malaria free in 2000, although the country’s health service still has to treat thousands of cases contracted overseas.
Research and better preventative measures are attributed with saving seven million lives and preventing over a billion cases since 2000.
Professor Maha Taysir Barakat, director-general of the Health Authority Abu Dhabi and RBM Board Member said: “There has been a remarkable decline in malaria cases and deaths over the past 15 years but more can be done to protect children and families from this disease and advance efforts to end it.”
Reaching The Last Mile is a forum backed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, along with The Carter Center and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Kieran Daly, Deputy Director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Board Vice Chair of the RBM Partnership, said: “ We welcome the UAE’s renewed commitment to the RBM Partnership and its representation on the Board, and look forward to continuing to advance our shared goal of improving lives everywhere.”
It will take place at the Abu Dhabi Global Market on Al Maryah Island on November 15.
It will bring over 300 government officials, aid leaders, global health experts, and industry leaders to share insights and best practice on how to map out and eradicate disease.