Abu Dhabi: Under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, over 200 global health leaders will gather in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday for “Reaching the Last Mile: Mobilising Together to Eliminate Infectious Disease”.
This forum of government officials, bilateral and multilateral aid leaders, global health experts, philanthropists, and industry leaders will focus on eliminating and eradicating preventable deadly diseases that hinder the health and economic prospects of the world’s poorest people. Reaching the Last Mile will be held in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Carter Centre.
The REACH (Recognising Excellence around Champions of Health) Awards, a global awards programme aimed at recognising individuals who have made outstanding contributions towards eliminating infectious diseases, will be launched at the forum. The 2017 REACH Awards will honour people who have been instrumental in driving progress against Guinea-worm disease, a crippling parasitic disease that incapacitates people for extended periods of time.
Jim Kim, president of the World Bank, will deliver a keynote address and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will be speaking on solving health challenges with technology. A session led by Reem Ebrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation, and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation, will focus on the importance of robust and targeted partnerships to end infectious diseases.
The forum will also include panel discussions by leading experts in the field, drawing on lessons learnt to explore what needs to happen to end polio and Guinea-worm disease, examining successes, challenges, and potentially game-changing innovations for malaria elimination, and discussing progress made in freeing the world of Neglected Tropical Diseases — a diverse group of tropical infections that affect more than five billion people worldwide and is especially common in low-income populations in developing regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
Speaking on the occasion, Nasser Al Mubarak, director of the Abu Dabhi Crown Prince’s Court, said, “Ending preventable disease threat is a global strategic goal and as a result of exceptional coordinated global efforts, the world is making tremendous progress. Shaikh Mohammad has been at the forefront of such global efforts to free the world of deadly and debilitating diseases, not only through his financial commitments, but also by providing support to people, organisations and countries that are truly instrumental in creating impact.”
He added, “Through Reaching the Last Mile, we hope to provide real, impactful solutions that will make a significant contribution to global development. It is through this kind of collaboration that we are able to eliminate the needless suffering of millions, giving them the chance to transform their lives for the better.”
Reaching the Last Mile was preceded by ‘Countdown to Zero: Defeating Disease’, a month-long internationally acclaimed exhibition focused on accelerating the eradication, elimination, and control of deadly infectious diseases, hosted at Al Maryah Island’s Promenade in Abu Dhabi. The exhibition attracted over 1,800 visitors including public and private school students, private sector organisations, as well as public officials.
The five zones of the Countdown to Zero exhibition have explored the ongoing progress made to eradicate Guinea-worm disease and polio and achieve local elimination of river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, and malaria in affected countries, as well as the challenge of diseases that currently cannot be eradicated, including trachoma. Members of the general public, both local and expatriates, have enjoyed the images, audiovisual content, scientific information and experiential and interactive experience of the exhibition.
Countdown to Zero was created by the American Museum of National History in collaboration with The Carter Centre, and was launched on October 16 under the patronage of Shaikh Mohammad. The exhibition will conclude on Tuesday at Al Maryah Island’s Promenade, and is free of charge.
Since 2011, Shaikh Mohammad has personally committed $235 million to global efforts to eradicate, eliminate, and control deadly and debilitating diseases, including polio, malaria and Guinea-worm disease, among others.