UAE a leader in fight against polio - GulfToday

UAE a leader in fight against polio

UAE a leader in fight against polio

The UAE is the frontrunner in crusade against polio worldwide. WAM

Various humanitarian and development initiatives launched by the UAE leadership through the years have helped humanity across the globe and made a positive difference in the lives of millions of people, especially children.

As countries marked the World Polio Day on Thursday, the UAE stood out for its relentless efforts to make the world polio-free.

Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines. Polio can be prevented through immunisation.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), the polio vaccine, given multiple times, almost always protects a child for life. The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunising every child until transmission stops and the world is polio-free.

In what can be termed as an historic achievement for humanity, an expert panel has now certified that the second of three types of the crippling virus has been eradicated globally.

The announcement by the Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication means that only wild polio virus type 1 is still circulating, after type 2 was declared eradicated in 2015, and type 3 this week.

Global polio cases have been cut by more than 99% since 1988, but type 1 polio virus is still endemic in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where it has infected a total of 88 people this year.

Complacency cannot be an option. In unvaccinated populations polio viruses can re-emerge and spread swiftly. The Philippines, for example, last month said it was planning an emergency vaccination campaign after polio re-surfaced and caused the first two recorded polio cases there for 20 years.

The UAE has played a major role in eradicating polio by actively contributing to the financing and support of critical vaccination campaigns.

As a result of these initiatives — led by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces — around 400 million children globally have received the necessary vaccines to prevent the spread of polio.

Since 2014, the initiative of Sheikh Mohamed for Global Polio Eradication has helped provide over 71 million children in Pakistan with vital polio vaccines.

According to the UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme, UAE PAP, which partners with the Sheikh Mohamed polio initiative, 418,956,226 drops of polio vaccines were delivered to Pakistani children from 2014 and up until September 2019.

Sheikh Mohamed has, since 2011, personally donated $167.8 million to support global efforts to eradicate poliomyelitis, with a focus on remote regions in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In a tweet posted on its Twitter official account, the WHO Pakistan stated: “Pakistan’s historic progress to #EndPolio would not be possible without the strong commitment of partners like @MohamedBinZayed and the UAE.”

Jay Wenger, Director of the Polio Eradication Programme at the Gates Foundation, has also highlighted that the UAE has not only been a historical partner and donor to the programme, but has played a critical role in eradication efforts through UAE PAP, to deliver the polio vaccine to some of the most difficult areas of the country to reach by facilitating health worker access via tribal relationships and networks.

The UAE deserves praise for remaining steadfast in its commitment to eradicate the disease. As Sheikh Mohamed tweeted, “On #WorldPolioDay, we renew our commitment to eradicating polio. Together with our partners and in collaboration with local communities, we can #endpolio and ensure a healthy future for the next generation.”

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