Abu Dhabi's crown prince and Bill Gates have been working together for quite some time. Two years ago, they pledged $100 million to eradicate some of the world's worst infectious diseases. This week, the two renewed their efforts in Abu Dhabi and saw the support of many others.
Reaching the Last Mile Forum recently took place in Abu Dhabi under the theme "accelerating the pace," with an aim to increase the fight against polio and malaria, conditions that have been described as neglected tropical diseases.
Global leaders affirmed their commitment to eradicate polio and pledged $2.6 billion to potentially wipe out polio for good. Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan donated $160 million; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated $1.08 billion.
The crown prince welcomed Gates prior to the forum at the Louvre Abu Dhabi to discuss the ways in which they'll cooperate to fight against other infectious diseases.
The global forum, which brought together more than 250 health experts and organizations, discussed the development of the efforts made to end dangerous diseases. The event also sought new pledges of support, which it successfully received.
Other diseases global leaders aim to combat include river blindness, guinea worm, and trachoma; the stated diseases affect about 1.6 billion people.
Bill Gates, who was in attendance at the event, thanked Sheikh Mohamed during his speech at the forum. "I'd like to thank Sheikh Mohamed for his leadership in global health," he said. Gates also said that "a new era in global health" had begun as many diseases are "now in retreat."
In the aftermath of the event, the billionaire also tweeted a special thank you to the Abu Dhabi crown prince yet again for helping "push this terrible disease [polio] to the brink of eradication."
Reaching the Last Mile Fund was set up by Sheikh Mohamed with the support of Gates in 2017. A year later, the life-saving initiative delivered more than 13.5 million treatments for two diseases and trained 76,000 healthcare workers.
Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has partnered with the UAE for years. Back in 2011, Sheikh Mohamed partnered with Gates to tackle polio in Afghanistan and Pakistan. At the time, each partner committed $50 million to eradicate the disease in the two countries. In 2017, the UAE affirmed its commitment after contributing $30 million in the fight against polio as well.
The donations from the UAE this year against polio exceeded both those amounts combined.
Gates has shown appreciation for Abu Dhabi's efforts in the fight against polio many times in the past. Gates highlighted the important efforts of the UAE in the fight against polio in a video shared in 2017.
"In fact, he [Sheikh Mohamed] has used his unique relationship with a lot of the key countries, including Pakistan, to help make our work there very, very successful," Gates said in the video.