General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced on Wednesday that they are working together to provide life-saving vaccinations to children in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The partnership commits a total of $100 million - $50 million from each partner - for the purchase and delivery of vital vaccines that will save Afghan and Pakistani children and prevent disease for a lifetime.
"This donation is another important step the ongoing work that has been championed by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. Like all children, the children of Afghanistan and Pakistan deserve the quality of health and opportunities that childhood immunisation can provide. The personal, community, national and international benefits that will result from a generation growing up protected from preventable diseases have the potential to resonate for generations to come," said Sheikh Mohammed.
Children in Afghanistan and Pakistan are especially vulnerable to preventable diseases, such as polio and pneumonia. Challenges in reaching them include conflict in the region, unequal health services and immunization levels among provinces within each country and, in the case of Pakistan, a slow recovery from last year's devastating floods.
"Vaccines protect children from many life-threatening childhood diseases, providing the best way to give a child a healthy start to life," said Gates. "This partnership is a powerful example of how collaboration by the global community can help build a healthier, more stable future for Afghan and Pakistani children, their families and communities." One in four children in Afghanistan does not survive to see his or her fifth birthday, making infant and under-five mortality rates in that country among the world's highest.
Of the total funds, two-thirds will be given to the Gavi Alliance for the purchase and delivery of the pentavalent vaccine and for the introduction of the new pneumococcal vaccine in Afghanistan. These vaccines help protect children from the biggest killers of children under five, including pneumonia, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type B (HiB), which causes meningitis.
The remaining $34m of the allocated funds will be directed to the World Health Organisation and Unicef to deliver polio vaccines in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Although worldwide polio has been reduced by 99 per cent during the past 20 years, Afghanistan and Pakistan are two of only four countries where polio transmission has never been stopped. To date, there has been a cycle of re-infection of this crippling disease between the populations of the two countries.
The partnership will result in the immunization of approximately five million children in Afghanistan against six deadly diseases, and will help the World Health Organization and Unicef workers reach approximately 35 million children in Afghanistan and Pakistan with oral polio vaccines.
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people especially those with the fewest resources have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr, under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
UAE Humanitarian Support
Afghanistan: In 2009, widespread insecurity, increased violence, poverty, chronic underdevelopment and natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods have contributed to intensifying Afghanistan's underlying food insecurity; the 2007-2008 National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment found that 7.4 million people - nearly a third of the population - were unable to get enough food to live active, healthy lives.
The UAE committed more than Dh1.26bn in aid to Afghanistan in 2009, representing 14 per cent of the UAE's total foreign aid during the year. Although a number of UAE donors were active in Afghanistan, almost 73 per cent of assistance (Dh918.3m) was in the form of grants administered by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.
Most of that money (Dh863.2m) was allocated to construction, with the remainder going to transport and storage. Some Dh26.8m went towards social infrastructure and services.Under the guidance of the President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE continues to make a significant humanitarian contribution in Afghanistan, and has done so since 2003. Through organizations such as the Red Crescent, the generous donations made by UAE citizens and volunteers have contributed to the construction of: 11 schools educating 300 students per day; Six medical clinics which have treated 35,000 Afghan patients; Zayed University, Afghanistan, serving over 6,400 students per year; a major hospital with an annual capacity of 7,000 patients; 38 mosques each providing a prayer service for over 300 people; a general public library serving more than 400 students and visitors per day; accommodation in Zayed City for 200 displaced families; and160 wells providing healthy drinking water.
Pakistan: In 2009, nearly two million people were uprooted from their homes in the Swat valley, South Waziristan and other parts of Pakistan's Northwest frontier province as a result of clashes between the Pakistan Army and the Taliban. Furthermore, 20 million people were displaced as a result of the flooding in the Punjab region in the Northeast of Pakistan.
The needs of the Pakistani people far exceeded the capacity of the Pakistan government and provoked a major response from the UAE. In total, Pakistan received commitments of Dh1.60 billion from UAE donors. In addition, the UAE army sent three UAE Chinooks to deliver aid and run relief missions in remote areas of Pakistan that were devastated by the floods.
On the instruction of the President of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Government committed grants worth Dh998.5m in response to project proposals presented by the Government of Pakistan. Of the assistance that has been allocated, more than half was spent on health programs, and nearly a third going to general humanitarian aid, a sector which includes emergency response, reconstruction and disaster preparedness.
The Khalifa Foundation made a number of contributions in response to the immediate needs of the displaced, including one major contribution to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) worth more than Dh55.1m, which was fully spent during the year.
The government further contributed Dh590.6m during the year, more than two thirds of which was directed towards health projects. The UAE Red Crescent Authority also contributed more than Dh20.5m.