ABU DHABI // Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, yesterday pledged a donation of Dh440 million to support global efforts to eradicate polio by 2018, ahead of the Global Vaccine Summit today.
Part of the donation will be used to try to eradicate the preventable disease in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Polio can cause a range of symptoms, including muscle weakness and paralysis.
“Saving generations of children from preventable diseases is a humanitarian initiative that can only be achieved through global collaboration,” said Sheikh Mohammed, who is also Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
"Under the leadership of the President, Sheikh Khalifa, the UAE strives to engage in global partnerships that solve these significant international issues.
“With global polio cases at a record low, the world has a historic opportunity to eradicate this debilitating disease within the next six years.”
The Global Vaccine Summit opened last night and continues today in the capital. It will bring together 300 global leaders in the fields of medicine and business, including the Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates; the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon; and his predecessor, Kofi Annan.
“Hosting the summit is a reflection of the UAE’s commitment to continue to serve as a meaningful facilitator of international humanitarian initiatives,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
A partnership between Sheikh Mohammed and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has already contributed greatly to the fight to give children around the world the vaccines they need.
In 2011, they made a combined donation of US$100m (Dh367.3m) to buy and deliver the vaccines to children in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Watch Bill Gates' speech at the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi here.
Through this partnership, $34m has been spent delivering 85 million doses of oral polio vaccine in the two countries, and another $66m has been allocated to deliver pentavalent and pneumococcal vaccines in Afghanistan.
It is estimated that the partnership will deliver pentavalent vaccines to 3.94 million children and pneumococcal vaccines to up to 3.96 million children.
Since 2011, Sheikh Mohammed has also given another Dh121m to help provide poverty-stricken children with vaccines.
Polio, once a disease that caused widespread fear because of its crippling effects, is now more than 99 per cent eradicated.