Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan: A tireless crusader behind eradicating polio

In 2011, Sheikh Mohamed joined hands with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide life-saving vaccinations to children in Afghanistan and Pakistan


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Sun 15 May 2022, 11:35 AM

Last updated: Sun 15 May 2022, 11:40 AM

is Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who assumed the role of the third President of the UAE on Saturday, has made an immense contribution to eradicate Polio and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) worldwide.

In 2011, he led the signing of a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to provide life-saving vaccinations to children in war-torn Afghanistan and Pakistan.

As part of the partnership, both parties pledged $100 million to purchase and deliver vital vaccines that will save Afghan and Pakistani children and prevent disease for a lifetime. “Like all children, the children of Afghanistan and Pakistan deserve the quality of health and opportunities that childhood immunization can provide. The personal, community, national and international benefits that will result from a generation growing up protected from preventable diseases have the potential to resonate for generations to come,” Sheikh Mohamed had said.

Throughout the 11-year partnership, the UAE and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation achieved meaningful milestones in the journey to eradicate NTDs. As part of this partnership, Sheikh Mohamed and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, hosted the first Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi in 2013.

The UAE and Gates Foundation have been working together to eliminate river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, which are common diseases in the Middle East and Africa. In 2017, the UAE and Gates Foundation launched the 10-year $100 million Reaching the Last Mile (RTLM) Fund to support efforts to eliminate two life-changing diseases, river blindness and lymphatic filariasis.

During the second RTLM Forum in November 2019, Sheikh Mohamed pledged $160 million to support the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s 2019-2023 Polio Endgame Strategy.

So far, the UAE has contributed $327 million to polio eradication efforts. Sheikh Mohamed and the Gates’ foundation’s efforts have seen major progress in the fight against polio. Africa was declared free of wild polio virus in 2020. Now, the disease is only endemic in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Data shows that three cases have been reported from Pakistan and a solitary one from Afghanistan.

Besides, preventative measures against malaria were said to have saved approximately 1.1 million lives over the past decade.

Under the able leadership of Sheikh Mohamed, the UAE led outstanding efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan, one of three countries where transmission of the disease continues.


Since the 2014 launch of the Emirates Polio Programme, which aims to administer vaccines in hard-to-access communities, UAE health workers have helped provide over 508 million vaccines to more than 86 million children in Pakistan.

In August 2020, the Emirates Polio Campaign conducted the world’s first polio vaccination campaign since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. It managed to reach out to around 16 million children and provided over 52 million doses, despite the raging viral outbreak.

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