The United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently made a $30 million pledge to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Since 2011, the UAE has been committed to working with other leaders in the public and private sectors around the world in eliminating polio. Members of the GPEI made a total pledge of $1.2 billion when they recently met in June of 2017 at the Rotary Convention in Atlanta.
Polio is a highly infectious virus that is transmitted through person-to-person contact and primarily affects children. The virus causes paralysis by attacking the nervous system. Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria are the only countries in the world who reported cases of polio in 2017. There were only a total of five cases of polio reported in 2017. The goal of GPEI is to protect over 450 million children from the polio virus through vaccinations and disease monitoring until the disease is eliminated.
In 2013, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan began a partnership with Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in support of polio vaccine distributions. Through this partnership, the UAE has committed $150 million to eradicating polio. Most of the UAE’s efforts have focused on eliminating polio in Pakistan, where the UAE has provided over 158 million vaccinations and immunized 30 million children. The UAE has become a leader in encouraging global research, implementing vaccination campaigns, and funding eradication efforts to finally end polio.
With only five reported cases of polio in three countries, the eradication of polio is within reach. The additional funding that the GPEI has received will help the organization develop programs to help prevent the polio virus from starting up again in other areas of the world. UAE ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba said his country is proud to lead the efforts in eradicating polio and can see a future where children can enjoy the economic benefits