His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Image Credit: WAM/Twitter

Abu Dhabi: On World Malaria Day, UAE has reiterated its commitment to fight the infectious disease.

Taking to his Twitter account, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, renewed UAE’s pledge to eradicate preventable diseases.

“On World Malaria Day, we reaffirm our commitment to working with our international partners as we strive to harness the power of innovation to reduce the burden of preventable diseases, accelerate their eradication and bring new hope and opportunity to people around the world,” he tweeted.

Renewed committment

The tweet followed an announcement by the Reaching the Last Mile (RLM), an organisation founded by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed to end diseases affecting the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.

“On WorldMalariaDay, we remain committed in the fight to end malaria through global partnerships with Malaria No More and End Malaria, and will continue to work with the global community to lead on innovative and equity-driven programs to save millions more lives,” RLM tweeted.

Preventable disease

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected Anopheles mosquitoes. It is an acute febrile illness that is preventable through the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying and antimalarial drugs.

Early diagnosis and treatment of malaria, therefore, reduces the impact of the disease and can prevent death. Still, the world sees more than 620,000 deaths each year from the infectious disease, based on the World Health Organisation’s 2020 statistics. A disproportionately high number of these fatalities – more than 95 per cent – occur in Africa, and children tragically account for 80 per cent of all malaria deaths in Africa.

Efforts thus far

The UAE is among the largest donors to advocacy efforts in support of ending malaria, including the RBM Partnership to End Malaria – a global platform for coordinating action to rid the world of malaria. The UAE also serves in a leadership capacity for RBM and contributes new operational research and additional advocacy efforts towards ending malaria through the Global Institute for Disease Elimination.

In 2020, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed offered a $1.5 million (Dh5.51 million) award to Malaria No More to assess the feasibility of climate-informed malaria strategies through Forecasting Healthy Futures.

Next steps

According to the RBM Partnership, about 1.1 million lives have been saved over the last decade through the use of preventative drugs, insecticides and malaria education.

“However, the malaria parasite is developing resistance to current drugs, and the mosquito vector is developing resistance to insecticides. Without innovative control tools and methodologies to improve the efficiency of current vector control practices and drug treatments, malaria eradication would be impossible,” the RBM Partnership has said.

The UAE has itself not seen any malaria cases from within the country since 1997, and it was officially declared malaria-free in 2007, the Ministry of Health and Prevention said in a statement.

“The UAE is still forging ahead with its plans to develop a malaria strategy for diagnosing and examining imported cases to provide the latest medicines and free treatments. The UAE takes pride in its sustained efforts to confront malaria not only locally but also globally, and it has never hesitated to provide aid and support to address this global humanitarian issue,” the Mohap said.

“UAE offered financial support to the RBM Partnership as it is fully aware of its international responsibility, and the need to accelerate the pace of confronting the disease. It has thus provided the necessary investments to develop new tools for the eradication of malaria.

Effective strategy

The Mohap added that it is following an effective strategy to immunise the community against communicable and infectious diseases, and also running an effective epidemiological surveillance program to discover and treat imported cases in the country.