More than 1,500 people took part in a walk in Dubai to raise awareness of rare diseases and their impact on patients and their families, on the occasion of Rare Disease Day, observed on the last day of February each year.
The event - held under the patronage of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and President of UAE Genetic Diseases Association - was supported by government institutions and local companies and was one of 185 events held to commemorate the event in 103 countries around the world.
The event gathered people and families of all ages and from across the UAE to walk along the Meraas Kite Beach promenade to encourage tolerance and inclusion for people living with rare diseases and to celebrate the UAE’s efforts to empower People of Determination and ensure they live full and productive lives.
"This walk is a fantastic illustration of the need to come together, to connect around this most important cause, to honour those individuals and families battling with rare diseases," said Sheikh Nahyan on the occasion. "It is our collective responsibility to provide the means to diagnose and treat rare diseases. At the same time, we must be focused on ensuring that those with rare diseases will have access to relevant and helpful programmes to adapt to their conditions and to experience the joy of life," he added.
A rare disease is one that affects fewer than 1 in 2,000 people. There are over 6,000 rare diseases currently identified, with many of them having a genetic cause, and three quarters of them affecting young children. In total over 300 million people worldwide are affected by a rare disease – more than cancer, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
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