Mohamed bin Zayed renews commitment to Guinea worm disease efforts
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has announced renewed financial support of $10 million to the Carter Centre, following the 30th anniversary of the organisation ’s partnership with the UAE.
The collaboration will continue to work towards global health initiatives and the eradication of the NTD Guinea worm disease. The announcement was made in the lead-up to the second annual World NTD Day on January 30th, 2021, which aims to raise global awareness for the urgent need to end NTDs.
The partnership was originally initiated by a historic meeting when the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan invited the former US President Jimmy Carter to the UAE for the first time. During the meeting, President Carter brought up his initiative to eradicate a parasitic disease that was causing devastation across large parts of Africa. The late Sheikh Zayed responded with a substantial donation to the Carter Centre, which began a decades-long commitment by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family to disease eradication.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed said, "We are privileged to continue the legacy of the founder of our nation His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in our work with The Carter Centre to eradicate Guinea worm disease. I thank former President Carter for our decades-long partnership and his unwavering commitment to ending a disease that affects the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people."
His Highness continued, "In the United Arab Emirates we have seen first-hand the vital link between health and prosperity, and we remain steadfast in our vision of a world where every person deserves to live a healthy, dignified life."
Guinea worm disease eradication is closer than ever. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Carter Centre reported that the number of human Guinea worm cases was cut in half to just 27 in 2020 compared to the previous year. The Carter Centre and its partners have reduced the incidence of Guinea worm disease by 99.99% (from approximately 3.5 million cases annually in 1986). Now this NTD is on track to be the first human disease eradicated since smallpox, and the first disease to be eradicated without the use of vaccines or drugs.
"Starting with my good friend Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and today continued through the generosity of his son, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the United Arab Emirates has been a staunch ally in the battle against Guinea worm and other neglected tropical diseases," said President Jimmy Carter, who, with former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, founded The Carter Centre in 1982. "Together, the UAE and The Carter Centre have formed a strong partnership that has transcended generations."
For more than three decades, the Centre has been a leader in the eradication and elimination of NTDs, and today focuses on five NTDs (Guinea worm, trachoma, river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis), malaria, and mental health in more than a dozen countries.
A virtual event marking the 30th anniversary of the partnership between The Carter Centre and the UAE will be held on January 27. It will feature UAE Ambassador to the United States His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba; Chair of The Carter Centre Board of Trustees Jason Carter; CEO of The Carter Centre; and the CEO of the Global Institute for Disease Elimination Simon Bland.
The ongoing partnership with The Carter Centre represents a part of the UAE’s larger, decades-long commitment towards global health and overcoming some of the world’s most deadly and debilitating diseases including malaria, polio and NTDs. The country’s commitment to disease elimination is focused on keeping preventable diseases at the top of the political agenda, maintaining progress, raising funding levels, and working closely with global partners and multilateral initiatives to increase impact.
Additionally, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, has donated more than $250 million USD since 2010 to efforts to eliminate preventable infectious diseases.