Carter Centre noted the personal friendship between Sheikh Zayed and former US President Carter.
The Chief Development Officer of the nonprofit Carter Centre has praised the UAE’s commitment and efforts to serve humanity.
Curtis Kohlhaas, who has served President Jimmy Carter for over 20 years, said that just as the Centre has grown to be a world leader in eradicating and eliminating neglected tropical diseases, NTDs, the “Al Nahyan family and the UAE have become a global force in the area of public health.”
The Carter Centre official noted the personal friendship between the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the former US President Carter. He told WAM that since the UAE and the Centre first partnered in 1990, that relationship became “multifaceted.”
The UAE’s Founding Father made a personal donation of $5.77 million (Dh21.2 million) to The Carter Centre in 1990 to assist in efforts to eradicate Guinea worm, a parasitic infection that incapacitates people for extended periods.
Thanks to global initiatives, like that of the UAE, Guinea worm disease could become the second human disease in history, after smallpox, to be eradicated.
“The next generations of the Carter and Al Nahyan families are now leading the way, and the partnership now includes not only Guinea worm disease but also mental health, trachoma, river blindness, and lymphatic filariasis programming,” Kohlhaas added.
He went on to note His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces’ efforts to eliminate and eradicate infectious diseases, adding that His Highness’ actions are an “immeasurable asset.”
Kohlhaas continued, “He sets an example for his people and for other nations to follow.”
The Carter Centre official went on to highlight the biannual Reaching the Last Mile Forum as an initiative launched by Sheikh Mohamed. The forum convenes global leaders to share insights and also provide financial support for neglected diseases like Guinea worm, lymphatic filariasis and river blindness.
A total of $2.6 billion (Dh9.5 billion) was pledged in the latest forum, which convened in Abu Dhabi this November.
When asked to comment on whether Guinea worm would be eradicated by 2020, Kohlhaas said, “Even though we are within the last mile of this effort, we are not done yet and will not see eradication in 2020.”
“The life cycle for the worm,” he explained, “is one year, so the disease has to be absent for at least one year before transmission can be considered broken.”
Kohlhaas then noted that an additional three years of “intense surveillance” needs to take place to monitor developments. “If there have been no cases of the disease found, only then will the World Health Organisation certify a disease as eradicated.”
When asked to comment on how countries, like the UAE, can play a role in these last mile efforts, Kohlhaas emphasised, “One of the keenest challenges is to keep the focus of the philanthropic and global health communities on surveillance during this final step of the eradication journey.
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