Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed has thanked health care workers for their courage and dedication in distributing vital doses of the polio vaccine to more than 16 million children in Pakistan during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces called on the world to join the UAE at the last mile to make the world free of polio.
“Never has the world been closer to eradicating polio. Today, wild polio can only be found in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Sheikh Mohamed posted on Twitter on Saturday.
Between July and September this year, 28 million vaccine doses were delivered and over 16 million children were reached by the Emirates Polio Campaign, he said.
“Like so much of our lives this year, this important work was impacted by Covid-19. Despite these challenges, the vaccination programme quickly resumed safely and efficiently,” Sheikh Mohamed said.
“We thank our frontline health care workers for their courage, skill and dedication.
"On this World Polio Day we ask you to join us as we reach the last mile towards the eradication of polio and empower millions of people to live healthy, dignified lives.”
More than 483 million vaccine doses were given to 86 million children since 2014 by UAE frontline staff working on the ground in Pakistan.
Earlier, the director of the World Health Organisation's polio eradication programme praised Sheikh Mohamed for his contribution to the fight against the disease.
Writing on Twitter on Friday, Michel Zaffran said the UAE ruler was “crucial” in the fight against polio.
"Donors like @RLMglobalhealth @MohamedBinZayed are crucial in the fight to #EndPolio! We are stronger with your support, and together we will stand on the finish line when polio is finally eradicated,” he said.
Mr Zaffran's comments came in recognition of the UAE's efforts on World Polio Day on Saturday.
The UAE has warned that there could be a resurgence in polio cases if vaccination programmes continue to be on hold while the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic.
Polio eradication groups halted campaigns in countries such as Pakistan as attention was diverted to fighting Covid-19.
In May, the WHO warned that the crisis was disrupting crucial progress to provide vaccines for other diseases, putting around 80 million children at risk.
The EPC completed the world’s first polio vaccination campaign since the outbreak of Covid-19 this spring.
Launched in 2014, EPC is part of the UAE Pakistan Assistance Programme, which was launched under the directives of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed and Sheikh Mohamed to provide help and humanitarian assistance to the people of Pakistan.