His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, today reaffirmed their cooperation towards the improvement of the health and wellbeing of communities in need. The intention is to identify joint initiatives that galvanize the global community and impact health programs for the world’s most vulnerable communities.
The declaration was signed at the Sea Palace on the sidelines of the Reaching the Last Mile Forum, a biennial convening of global health leaders in Abu Dhabi.
His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed said, "Disease is one of the most formidable barriers to prosperity. Access to healthcare and the prevention and treatment of disease is a pathway to lifting people out of poverty and can have significant effects on global development. We look forward to working with His Holiness Pope Francis to enable impoverished communities the opportunity to live a healthy, dignified life."
The declaration specifically mentioned neglected tropical diseases, NTDs, which affect more than 1.5 billion people around the world and highlighted the role of Reaching the Last Mile Fund that was set up by His Highness in 2017 to combat two neglected tropical diseases, river blindness and lymphatic filariasis. Despite programmes launched at the international level and improved access to treatments, NTDs remain a secondary priority on the global agenda.
Faced with diseases that today can be monitored, prevented and eliminated, the declaration urged the global community to collaborate to reach these most vulnerable populations.
This declaration comes after the historic visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Abu Dhabi this February, the first by a leader of the Roman Catholic Church to the Arabian Peninsula. The longstanding collaboration is focused on strengthening international efforts and cross-border cooperation.
Earlier this week the global Interfaith Summit was held at the Vatican, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and in the presence of His Holiness Pope Francis and H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior.
At the signing, His Holiness Pope Francis was represented by His Grace Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio to the United Arab Emirates; and the Crown Prince was represented by Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Under-Secretary of Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi.