His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, yesterday pledged a donation of US$120m (Dh440m) in support of global efforts to eradicate polio by 2018, with a specific contribution towards Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The pledge comes on the eve of the inaugural Global Vaccine Summit being held in Abu Dhabi in partnership with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and co-chair of the Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates.
The Summit brings together 300 global leaders, health and development experts, vaccinators, philanthropists, and business leaders to endorse the critical role that vaccines and immunization play in giving children a healthy start to life, and will include additional financial pledges to support the Global Polio Eradication Initiative's (GPEI) new, comprehensive six-year plan.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan stated: "Saving generations of children from preventable diseases is an humanitarian initiative that can only be achieved through global collaboration. Under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, 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 an historic opportunity to eradicate this debilitating disease within the next six years. Together, the international community can successfully tackle this challenge at this critical moment to create a world without polio for the lasting benefit of future generations," His Highness added.
His Highness further said "Hosting the Summit is a reflection of the UAE's commitment to continue to serve as a meaningful facilitator of international humanitarian initiatives." This is the second major donation made by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to support the delivery of lifesaving vaccines to children around the world.
In 2011, His Highness and the Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation announced a strategic partnership that made a combined donation of US$100m to fund the purchase and delivery of vital vaccines to the children of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Through this partnership, US$34m has been spent delivering 85 million doses of oral polio vaccine in Afghanistan and Pakistan and an additional US$66m has been allocated to the delivery of pentavalent and pneumococcal vaccines in Afghanistan. It is estimated that the partnership will deliver pentavalent vaccines to a total of 3.94 million children and pneumococcal vaccines to up to 3.96 million children.
"Today's announcement is a critical step towards fully funding the world's comprehensive plan to achieve a polio-free world and protect children for all time from this preventable disease. I'm grateful to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his leadership, friendship and commitment to ensuring all children have access to the life-saving vaccines they need," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation and a co-host of the Global Vaccine Summit.
Despite significant progress, millions of children do not receive the vaccines they need. Every 20 seconds a child dies from diseases that can be prevented with existing vaccines. Polio, once a disease that caused widespread fear because of its crippling effects is now more than 99 percent eradicated.
Now, the world has a unique opportunity to end polio due to tremendous advances in 2012. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there were only 223 cases of polio during 2012 - down from 650 cases in 2011 - representing the lowest number of cases in the fewest countries ever and the largest drop in a decade. India has now been polio free for two years while Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have both re-established polio-free status, leaving Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan as the only remaining polio-endemic countries.
The new Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) strategic plan addresses the operational challenges of vaccinating children, including in densely populated urban areas, hard-to-reach areas and in areas of insecurity. The plan includes the use of polio eradication experience and resources to strengthen immunization systems in high-priority countries. It also lays out a process for planning how to transition the GPEI's resources and lessons, particularly in reaching the most marginalized and vulnerable children and communities, so that they continue to be of service to other public health efforts. It is estimated that GPEI's efforts to eradicate polio could deliver total net benefits of US$40-50 billion by 2035 from reduced treatment costs and gains in productivity.
The GPEI, launched in 1988, is spearheaded by national governments, the WHO, Rotary International, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and UNICEF, and supported by key partners including the Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation. -
Under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and in partnership with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Bill '&' Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Vaccine Summit started in Abu Dhabi this evening.
The 2-day summit is being attended by over 300 delegates of world leaders, health experts and philanthropists.
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of International Cooperation and Development delivered the summit's keynote speech.
Following is the full text of the speech: Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Evening and welcome to Abu Dhabi, especially to those of you who are visiting the capital, or the UAE, for the first time.
What a great gathering we have here today to celebrate global triumphs in health and honour the men and women behind them.
Tomorrow, we shall present the UAE's plans for local, regional and global healthcare and reaffirm our strong support for the admirable work being done by the UN and the Gates Foundation in this regard.
Although we have come a long way in combating disease and prevention through vaccination, this remarkable assembly highly motivates us to collectively start rolling up our sleeves. We can expect the momentum to carry over through lively and productive discussions and debates on key topics such as the building of strong immunization programs and partnerships, new vaccines and delivery innovations, and more effective mechanisms towards the global eradication of polio.
Ladies and Gentlemen, We are gathered here today to take more critical steps towards our shared dream of ending the plight of countless suffering individuals and families. If only there was some magical way to make this happen right away, right now.
The reality is that it will take quite some time and monumental efforts to vanquish the tenacious and persistent health threats that we all currently face. Our undertaking requires an exceptional amount of commitment and collaboration from decision-makers, NGOs, health experts and solutions providers across various disciplines. The question is not if we are ready for the challenge, but rather, if we can afford NOT to be? If we want to successfully resolve some of the world's most pressing issues, then there is no other way but to fully embrace collaboration and cooperation. Problems that have a significant impact on the global society require a significant degree of unity to address as well.
Gaining common ground will not be easy, though. We have our own concerns to consider and a long process of discussions and debates to go through. But as we often explain to our little ones, while the immunization shots they receive may hurt a little, the diseases they can prevent are definitely far, far worse.
In the same vein, the forging of strategic, genuine and highly-motivated global partnerships, while challenging, eventually puts us all in an excellent position to come up with new models of resolution and holistic approaches. Silence and indifference will only take us to a darker place.
The UAE, for one, believes in the crucial role of global dialogue on the best ways to tackle challenges such as ensuring the health and safety of each and every member of the human race.
The world is fortunate to have organizations such as the Gates Foundation, the United Nations, UNICEF, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the World Health Organization and the GAVI Alliance leading international conversations and actions in this regard.
They and other champions for the well-being of the Earth's inhabitants, especially its youths who have so much to live for, are making a big, big difference towards a brighter future for humanity.
Their work has definitely been bearing much fruit; in fact, we are inching closer to declaring a polio-free world. Later on we will hear about the Global Polio Eradication Initiative's six-year plan, which will take us a huge step forward towards the global goal of saving - through vaccination - more than 20 million lives by 2020 . Imagine our joy, when the word polio finally becomes a closed chapter of human history.
Both internationally and in our part of the world, people have come to appreciate the importance of polio eradication and immunization in general. Through various vaccination programs the UAE in particular has been able to eliminate polio and many other childhood diseases.
Knowledge is key to achieving a disease-free society. That is why here in Abu Dhabi, for example, the "Health Authority - Abu Dhabi" launched a year-long campaign in 2012 to raise public awareness about the importance of vaccination and the local availability of vaccines. This reflects the UAE spirit of outreach and assistance that we have been extending to the global citizenry ever since our formation as a Federation.
In fact, one of the early priorities of our Founding Father, the late President H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, was to concretize the cherished Islamic belief that helping those in need is a primary duty. From the outset, since the birth of our nation in 1971, the late President directed that a part of our growing wealth be allotted to assisting the less fortunate within and beyond our borders. He took the first steps towards the institutionalization of our foreign assistance efforts with the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, which has ever since provided invaluable developmental assistance to the world's developing countries. He also oversaw the establishment of various other humanitarian assistance and development organizations, which have shown the entire world the UAE's unwavering commitment to supporting global humanitarian issues.
As a fruit of his wisdom, the UAE was ranked earlier this month by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's Development Assistance Commission, as the world's 16th top donor in 2012 based on the proportion of foreign assistance it provides in relation to its Gross National Income (GNI). We were formerly 20th in 2011 and 26th in 2010.
In 2011, His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, and Bill Gates partnered to commit a total of USD 100 million - USD 50 million from each side - to procure and provide life-saving vaccinations to children in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It is heartening to see that today, UAE and international efforts to eradicate polio appear to be working. According to the WHO, only 223 cases of polio were reported in 2012, down from 650 in 2011, representing the lowest number of cases in the fewest countries ever recorded. We know today that India has been polio free for two years, while Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have both re-established polio-free status, leaving Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan as the only remaining polio-endemic countries.
I am thus pleased to resound this afternoon's remarkable announcement that His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has donated USD 120 million (Dh 440 million) to accelerate global efforts to eradicate polio by 2018, with a specific contribution towards Afghanistan and Pakistan. This sustains the UAE's unyielding commitment to providing healthcare assistance to millions of children around the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, There is still a lot of work to do, and a long journey to prepare for. As I speak, one child is still dying every 20 seconds from a disease that vaccination could have easily prevented. I am confident that this Summit will provide us with better tools and a clearer roadmap towards a healthier planet, all of which will hasten our victory.
May I add as well, that the UAE is delighted to host this meaningful event and serve as a hub of cooperation and exchange towards global well-being in fulfilment of the Emirati tradition of charity and aid. We aim to become more involved in immunization efforts and other similar initiatives at the multilateral level in the future. We are all in this together, so our efforts should cover the entire spectrum of health stakeholders, from governments and health practitioners to industry and the general public.
The peoples of the world look forward to the valuable insights and solutions that will emerge within these two days of meaningful dialogue and collaboration. Across the entire globe, there are many ongoing government-backed movements to further broaden awareness on immunization and develop truly impactful initiatives. This summit is an important platform for intensifying these efforts.
To conclude, I would like to thank you all for being here. It has been a great pleasure to join you all this evening. Abu Dhabi and the entire UAE eagerly joins hands with the global community in celebrating progress, while saving lives' and helping fulfil the promise of immunization for all children.
Thank you all for your time, and wishing you very productive discussions ahead. -
Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum received this evening at Zabeel Palace William Hague, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
They discussed during the meeting which was attended by Dubai Deputy Ruler H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the historic ties of friendship between the UAE and the UK and ways to enhance them.
Sheikh Mohammed and Hague also exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues.