Abu Dhabi: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and His Holiness Pope Francis, have joined hands to combat disease.

The statement was made during a joint declaration on world health, in Abu Dhabi on Monday, signed by Mohammad Mubarak Al Mazroui, Undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Crown Princes’ Court, on behalf of Shaikh Mohammad, and Archbishop Francisco Monticello Padilla, the Pope’s Personal Envoy and deputy Vicar Apostolic in the UAE, on behalf of Pope Francis.

The joint declaration pledges to improve the health of communities in need, and to support international and joint initiatives with the aim of launching health programmes to help people in different countries across the world.

“Diseases are one of the biggest obstacles to the development and prosperity of societies, and access to health care, disease prevention and treatment, is key to eliminating poverty and achieving global development goals,” said Shaikh Mohammad. He expressed his hope of strengthening cooperation with Pope Francis to help poor communities enjoy a healthy and dignified life.

The declaration stipulated the fight against neglected tropical diseases in particular, which threaten more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, especially that these diseases are given a secondary priority on the global agenda despite international programmes launched and the increased access to treatment.

The long-term collaboration focuses on strengthening international efforts to eliminate communicable diseases.

The document highlights the “Reaching Last Mile Fund”, which was established by Shaikh Mohammad in 2017 to combat two neglected tropical diseases, river blindness and lymphatic filariasis. The joint declaration calls on the international community to cooperate in addressing diseases that can be monitored, prevented and eliminated, with a view to reaching the most vulnerable and marginalised populations.

The joint declaration is one of the fruits of the Pope’s historical visit to Abu Dhabi in February.

Last week, the Interfaith Summit was held in Vatican, under the patronage of Shaikh Mohammad, and in the presence of Pope Francis, and Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.