The campaign to rid the world of polio is close to total success, Microsoft founder Bill Gates said at an awards ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night.
“It is close, very close. Now is the time to double down our efforts to eradicate this disease,” Mr Gates said at the event held to honour five heroes of the fight against the disease, who risk their lives for the cause.
“The donors have to step up for a couple of years more and the countries on the frontline will have to remain vigilant.”
Attending the ceremony was Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, who has been a leader in the global campaign against polio.
The UAE has made the campaign a top priority in its foreign aid programme. In 2011, Sheikh Mohammed and Mr Gates announced a fund of US$100 million (Dh734m) each to provide vaccinations for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In 2013, they joined again at the global vaccine summit in Abu Dhabi, where $4 billion was pledged against polio, including $120m from Sheikh Mohammed. Medical experts believe polio could be eradicated by 2018.
The Heroes of Polio Eradication, or Hope, awards honoured five brave people at the heart of the struggle against polio, often at grave risk to their lives in some of the world’s most challenged countries.
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