Abu Dhabi: A $5 million (Dh18.37 million) contribution was announced on Sunday by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to support action and drive progress in the battle against malaria.
The funds will be provided over three years to the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), a global initiative for coordinated action against malaria.
In a statement by RBM, the initiative said that Shaikh Mohammad’s contribution will be pivotal in supporting efforts to reduce the burden of malaria and save lives.
“The UAE has long played an essential role in supporting progress against some of the world’s most devastating diseases, and we are pleased to deepen our collaboration in the fight against malaria,” said Dr Kesete Admasu, chief executive officer of RBM.
“The health investments made by global leaders like [Shaikh Mohammad] have proven to be, and will remain, critical to building a healthier world,” Dr Admasu added.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that causes fever, exhaustion and vomiting, and it can even be fatal in severe cases. The disease is still endemic in about a 100 countries, although the UAE eradicated it in 2007.
Internationally, scaled-up malaria interventions, increased funding and focused leadership have driven significant progress against the disease since 2000, and the RBM statement said that nearly seven million lives have been saved through these efforts. In addition, one billion malaria cases have been prevented.
Nevertheless, malaria still poses a heavy global burden, and a child continues to die from the disease every two minutes.
There are ambitious international targets to accelerate progress against malaria, including the elimination of malaria in 10 more countries by 2020. However, this will require increased funding and new steps to ensure that interventions reach those who most need them.
“We welcome the UAE’s renewed commitment to the RBM Partnership and its representation on the board, and look forward to continuing to advance our shared goal of improving lives everywhere,” said Kieran Daly, deputy director at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and board vice-chair of RBM.
“Having a diversity of leadership perspectives at the table will significantly strengthen efforts to combat malaria, particularly as we enter a bold new chapter in ending this disease,” Daly said.
According to the RBM, the UAE has been a long-standing supporter, contributing over a quarter of its total budget before restructuring.
The UAE has also supported worldwide efforts to eradicate other infectious diseases. Last year, it allocated nearly $17 million (Dh62.4 million) towards vaccinating 10.5 million children in Pakistan against polio, a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. Shaikh Mohammad himself donated $120 million (Dh440.75 million) in 2013 to the Global polio Eradication Initiative with a specific focus on combatting the disease in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Abu Dhabi will also host the next RBM board meeting in November, alongside a global health forum to address significant successes and challenges in infectious disease elimination efforts.