The UAE has delivered a $5 million boost to an international campaign aimed at addressing the impact of climate change on efforts to eradicate malaria.
The Reaching the Last Mile initiative — a 10-year, $100 million fund launched by President Sheikh Mohamed in 2017 with support from the with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to combat the world's deadliest diseases — will provide the key investment over the next three years.
The financial assistance will allow for the expansion of the Forecasting Healthy Futures scheme, led by the US-based Malaria No More non-profit organisation.
Forecasting Healthy Futures is working to reduce the effects on climate change on disease prevention by developing cutting-edge prediction and planning tools and helping governments shape and introduce treatment and prevention programmes.
Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed, member of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, witnessed the announcement of the agreement, which was signed by Nassar Al Mubarak, representing Reaching the Last Mile, Martin Edlund, chief executive of Malaria No More, and Professor Eric Xing, President of Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence in Abu Dhabi.
“We are proud to be offering our renewed commitment to Forecasting Healthy Futures, and hope that this marks another milestone in the UAE’s long-standing fight against preventable diseases, which started decades ago with our Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” said Sheikh Tayeb.
“Today, under the guidance of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, we continue to work hand-in-hand with key players in the field of global health, through meaningful partnerships that create real impact while upholding our values of helping those in need and empowering people to live healthier and more dignified lives.
“We celebrate with great optimism the new heights and potential to reach together. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the FHF team and its partners, supported by our world-class university partners at MBZUAI, we look forward to eradicating this disease and moving closer to a malaria-free world.”
UAE committed to eliminating disease
President Sheikh Mohamed, in his former capacity as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, marked World Malaria Day in April by underlining the UAE's commitment to wiping out the disease.
“We strive to harness the power of innovation to reduce the burden of preventable diseases, accelerate their eradication and bring new hope and opportunity to people around the world,” he said.
“We remain committed in the fight to end malaria through global partnerships and will continue to work with the global community to lead on innovative and equity-driven programmes to save millions more lives.”
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention describes malaria as a “serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans.
“People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness,” the organisation states on its website.
Malaria caused an estimated 247 million cases and over 619,000 deaths in 2021, the World Health Organisation said in its World Malaria Report.
Three out of four deaths were children under five years old, it said.
Rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and extreme weather contribute to the spread of vector-borne diseases.
One mosquito species in particular — Anopheles stephensi — has expanded its range into urban areas and shows increasing insecticide resistance.
The WHO report states steps are being taken to limit its spread.
The latest $5 million pledge from RLM builds on $1.5 million award made in 2020 to assess the feasibility of climate-informed malaria strategies.