ABU DHABI, 24th June, 2022 (WAM) — In line with its decades-long leadership in global disease elimination efforts, the UAE has reaffirmed its commitment to ending neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) after endorsing the Kigali Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases in Rwanda.
The signing of the Declaration was celebrated yesterday during the Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs, hosted by the Government of Rwanda on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The Summit convened global health leaders to highlight the urgency of ending malaria and NTDs and identify opportunities for better integration across disease elimination efforts.
Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, attended the Summit and signed the Kigali Declaration on behalf of the UAE. He attended representing President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Reaching the Last Mile initiative, which reflects Sheikh Mohamed’s philanthropic commitments to disease elimination.
Launched earlier this year on World NTD Day, a global day of advocacy championed by the UAE, the Kigali Declaration is a high-level political declaration that aims to mobilise political will, resources and action to end unnecessary suffering from NTDs. The Declaration focuses on country ownership of NTD programmes and stresses the importance of integration and cross-sectoral collaboration.
Remarking on the Declaration, Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan Al Nahyan said, “Today represents another significant milestone in the effort to end neglected tropical diseases, as we join global leaders in pledging to eliminate these diseases that are affecting millions of people in the world’s most vulnerable communities. Only through collaboration and partnership can we truly make significant progress on the journey toward ending NTDs. We are honoured to join the Government of Rwanda and our international partners to mark the next stage of that journey here in Kigali.”
The Kigali Declaration builds on the success of the ground-breaking 2012 London Declaration on NTDs, which ended this year, and outlines a clear pathway to achieve the targets laid out by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 2030 Roadmap on NTDs. Significant progress has been made on NTDs over the past several decades as a result of the collective work of donors, governments, and partner organisations, with 45 countries having eliminated at least one NTD so far.
He added, “The UAE is a long-standing champion of NTD elimination. We are proud to continue the legacy of our late Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and to reaffirm the commitment of our President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, who believes that no one should suffer from a preventable disease.
“Much progress has been made on NTDs, and as a nation, we are determined to continue to support elimination efforts and global movements, such as the Kigali Declaration that can help raise awareness and mobilise resources. Our collective efforts will free communities from the burden of these devastating diseases while strengthening local health systems and securing a safer world for all.”
The Kigali Declaration was also signed by Heads of State, including Rwandan President, Paul Kagame; Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari; Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape; and President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan; along with other esteemed officials and partners.
The Declaration was developed through a collaborative and iterative process which included input from Reaching the Last Mile, as well as other key partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carter Center, the END Fund and several endemic countries.
The UAE and Abu Dhabi’s ruling family have been leaders on efforts to end infectious diseases for the last three decades, continuing the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed, founding father of the UAE, who made a personal donation to Jimmy Carter’s Guinea Worm Eradication Programme in 1990. This commitment continues today through the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed with a continued partnership with the Carter Center and through the Reaching the Last Mile Fund, which he launched in 2017 to provide a proof of concept for eliminating river blindness and lymphatic filariasis in Africa.
The UAE and its leadership have also made significant contributions to global efforts to prevent and control malaria, a deadly infectious disease that disproportionately affects women and children, with donations to The Global Fund and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria. Through the Reaching the Last Mile Initiative, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed also launched Forecasting Healthy Futures in 2019, an innovative partnership with Malaria No More and several technology partners to advance climate-informed malaria policies and interventions.