All at risk
The RLM Initiative enjoyed a successful track record in the lead-up to the pandemic — and the accomplishments continued despite the difficulties of the global outbreak, Al Mubarak said. “The spread of COVID-19 may have slowed down the teams working on the initiative’s polio vaccination campaign after inoculations were paused in March in response to the pandemic, but they quickly bounced back. The Emirates Polio Campaign was the first polio programme to restart, relaunching vaccination efforts in July last year. Active since 2014 and focusing on Pakistan, the Emirates Polio Campaign has delivered 483 million vaccines to 86 million children,” Al Mubarak said.
This programme is integral: the polio virus infected hundreds of thousands of people each year in the 1980s, leading to devastating cases of paralysis in even young children. Following numerous eradication attempts and national campaigns, the virus now remains endemic only in two countries — Pakistan and Afghanistan. Yet, 200,000 new cases of polio could develop every year, within just a decade, if the polio virus is not eliminated from these last vestiges of its existence, public health experts have warned.
Al Mubarak said that a key attribute of RLM is its commitment to working creatively with partners to meet and overcome health care challenges around the world. “Monitoring pharmaceutical developments in the treatment of NTDs, it is partnering with Medicines Development for Global Health to bring medication to populations that are difficult to reach consistently. It is also keeping a close watch on a new triple drug therapy for treating several NTDs, which has been piloted in the Pacific Islands Region,” Al Mubarak said.
For the past two years, RLM has supported MIT Solve’s Global Health Challenge, a platform for innovators from around the world to submit solutions to the world’s toughest public health problems, by funding a prize for solutions that address disease elimination and strengthening health systems. In 2019, the ‘Innovating Together for Healthy Cities Prize’ funded FairCap Clean Water, a low-cost water filtration solution that is inserted in plastic bottles to provide immediate access to clean water and reduce the risk of waterborne infectious diseases.
Last year, the ‘Health Workforce Innovation Prize’ funded Ubenwa, an AI-based solution for assessing newborn crying to reduce infant mortality. “RLM continues to explore innovations that can accelerate the pace of disease elimination, support health workers, and strengthen health systems, including using drones for the delivery of medicine and supplies and the use of solar energy to better serve remote areas,” Al Mubarak said.
Core to the RLM’s approach is identifying new financing mechanisms, investable projects, and funding partnerships. The initiative recognises that traditional sources of funding for global health will not be able to meet the financial gap that exists in this space, and that novel forms of generating funding are needed. An example is the Reach Campaign, which is working with like-minded private sector partners in the UAE to raise money and awareness around NTDs.
“RLM’s ultimate goal is to advance equity in global health, with a clear vision for a more inclusive, stable and resilient world. It is striving to achieve this by building resilient health systems, working to eliminate preventable infectious diseases that affect the world’s most marginalised communities, and advocating for resources and attention to be directed towards neglected diseases and populations,” Al Mubarak added.
A new session of the Majlis Mohamed Bin Zayed Ramadan series will air today, May 3.
Original news source Credit: gulfnews.com