Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 10 December 2019

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and Pope Francis partner to combat diseases

Joint Declaration on Global Health reaffirms commitment from Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Pope to battle global diseases

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Pope Francis signed an agreement to combat global diseases while improving the health of communities in need.

The Joint Declaration on Global Health aims to identify joint initiatives that will galvanise the global community and boost health programmes for the world’s most vulnerable communities, the state news agency Wam reported.

It was signed at the Sea Palace on Monday, ahead of the Reaching the Last Mile Forum, a gathering of global health leaders in Abu Dhabi.

"Disease is one of the most formidable barriers to prosperity," Sheikh Mohamed said after the signing.

"Access to health care and the prevention and treatment of disease is a pathway to lifting people out of poverty and can have significant effects on global development.

“We look forward to working with Pope Francis to enable impoverished communities the opportunity to live a healthy, dignified life."

The declaration mentioned neglected tropical diseases, which affect more than 1.5 billion people around the world.

It highlighted the role of the Reaching the Last Mile Fund, which was set up by Sheikh Mohamed in 2017 to combat two of those diseases, river blindness and lymphatic filariasis.

Despite these programmes and improved access to treatments, neglected tropical diseases are still a secondary priority on the global agenda.

These diseases can now be monitored, prevented and eliminated, and the declaration urged the global community to collaborate to reach the most vulnerable populations.

The signing came nine months after the Pope Francis’s historic visit to Abu Dhabi, the first by a leader of the Roman Catholic Church to the Arabian Peninsula.

This week the global Interfaith Summit was held at the Vatican, under the patronage of Sheikh Mohamed and in the presence of Pope Francis and Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior.

At the signing, Pope Francis was represented by Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio to the UAE, and Sheikh Mohamed was represented by Mohamed Al Mazrouei, Undersecretary of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi.

Updated: November 19, 2019 02:19 AM

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