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Abu Dhabi, Gates in $100m immunization drive

Seattle, January 26, 2011

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bill Gates have together pledged $100 million to fight preventable diseases 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.

Abu Dhabi, Gates in $100m immunization drive 

The duo said they will work together to provide life-saving vaccinations to children in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to experts, 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.

Children in Afghanistan and Pakistan are especially vulnerable to preventable diseases, such as polio and pneumonia, they added. 

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.

"Like all children, those in Afghanistan and Pakistan deserve the quality of health and opportunities that childhood immunization 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 bin Zayed.
 
"Vaccines protect children from many life-threatening childhood diseases, providing the best way to give a child a healthy start to life," said Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"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."

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 $34 million of the allocated funds will be directed to the World Health Organization 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.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: abu dhabi | Gates | immunization drive |

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