UAE helps world stem polio amid virus - GulfToday

UAE helps world stem polio amid virus


This photo is used for illustrative purpose.

Those suffering from polio can only understand what it is to bear this utterly nettling or vexing burden. It only does affect the commoner but has hit some famous people as well.

American Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is among the well-known figures who have been affected by it. McConnell survived polio as a toddler, but still has some trouble climbing stairs.

World Polio Day, which falls on October 24, raises awareness for the illness known as poliomyelitis. It is one of the most infectious diseases caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis within a matter of hours.

Infection can be prevented by vaccination.

The polio vaccines developed by Jonas Salk in 1952 and Albert Sabin in 1962 are credited with reducing the annual number of polio cases by the thousands.

According to one report, polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated more than 350,000 cases to 22 reported cases in 2017. This reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease.

In this regard, the UAE’s efforts in eradicating polio among children around the world are a source of pride.

Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Hamed, Chairman of the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi, DoH, has commended the nation’s efforts in tackling the enervating disease.

Thanks to the landmark and humane initiative on the part of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the UAE has succeeded in revolutionising many children’s lives around the world and has helped cure polio worldwide. Under his stewardship, the UAE launched the world’s first polio vaccination campaign during the outbreak of COVID-19. The campaign successfully vaccinated 722,500 children in Pakistan with a success rate of 94.3 per cent.

So much so that Michel Zaffran, Director of the World Health Organisation’s Polio Eradication Programme, has commended the commitment of Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed to fight polio.

In a tweet posted on his Twitter official account, Zaffran said: “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.”

Zaffran’s commendation came as the Emirates Polio Campaign, EPC, announced it administered over 28 million vaccine doses in Pakistan between July and September 2020, reaching over 16 million children as part of its recognition of World Polio Day.

Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed has committed more than $250 million to eradicate the disease, and in 2019 hosted the Global Polio Eradication Initiative pledging moment at the Reaching the Last Forum which raised more than $2.8 billion.

The Emirates Polio Campaign completed the world’s first polio vaccination campaign since the outbreak of COVID-19 this spring.

Launched in 2014, The Emirates Polio Campaign is part of the UAE Pakistan Assistance Programme, which was launched under the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed to provide help to the people of Pakistan.  Since launching, the campaign has delivered more than 483 million polio vaccines, reaching 86 million children across Pakistan.

Earlier this year, brakes were applied on vaccination programmes around the world due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 and many leaders in the health community warned of a potential new polio crisis. However, The Emirates Polio Campaign overcame these hurdles and was the first programme in the world to resume polio vaccinations.

During July and August, frontline health workers distributed hundreds of thousands of masks and sanitisers to homes and health facilities.

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