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UAE-European Parliament Friendship Group hosts event to raise awareness on the threat of poliomyelitis

posted on 14/05/2015: 1241 views

BRUSSELS: The UAE-European Parliament Friendship Group, in collaboration with the UAE mission to the EU, yesterday hosted a special event to raise awareness on the threat of poliomyelitis at the European Union, EU, parliament.

The event featured, Every Last Child, a film about the fight against polio in Pakistan, and was hosted by the UAE-European Parliament Friendship Group and the UAE mission to the EU.

Every Last Child, produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi and directed by the award-winning filmmaker Tom Roberts, tells the dramatic story of five people impacted by polio. It shows the terrible consequences of the disease and pays tribute to the vaccinators who pursue their mission in the face of mistrust, cynicism and violence.

Suleiman Hamed Salem Al Mazrouei, Head of the UAE Mission to EU, UAE Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and Non-Resident Ambassador to the Duchy of Luxembourg, stressed the achievements accomplished by the UAE Pakistan Assistance Programme, which helped vaccinate 8 million children in 2013.

Al Mazrouei explained that this programme is part of the UAE's general aid and development policy, saying, "Since its inception in 1971, the UAE has been in the forefront of the donor countries providing billions of euros each year. "In 2013", he added, "the UAE was the largest donor in terms of percentage of its Gross National Income according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD."

Tom Roberts explained why he decided to make a movie on polio. The disease will inevitably and quickly spread if it is not eradicated. "Polio travels very quickly so you need to fight it and prevent it from spreading, the job is almost done" he added "but almost isn't good enough".

Alain Yelnik, Professor of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine at Lariboisiere Hospital in Paris and French specialist on polio, declared that vaccination against polio should be mandatory everywhere in the world. "If all children are vaccinated," he explained, "polio will be eradicated and we will not need the vaccine anymore since the whole world would be free of this disease."

MEP Antonio Lopez-Isturiz White, who hosted the event, explained that a number of MEPs have signed a written declaration calling on the EU Commission to allocate "appropriate levels of funding to polio vaccination campaigns and surveillance over the next 4 years. "It is a mission that the whole international community must continue to pursue."

"We hope the European Union will deliver 200 million euros over the next 4 years" said Michel Coomans, Rotary representative at the EU. Rotary hopes to gather enough signatures of members of the European parliament before June 9th to put the request over to the European Commission.

5 Billion dollars have been collected to fight polio since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched. Four billion dollars were pledged two years ago at the Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi. The summit was hosted by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, in partnership with United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This commitment remains strong today, in 2015, as GPEI continues its work towards the final push, to rid the world of Polio.

As Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of World Health Organisation, put it recently, "What happens in Pakistan determines whether the global Polio Eradication Initiative succeeds or fails, whether the billions of dollars invested to date deliver a polio-free world or count for nothing."

Naghmana A. Hashmi, Ambassador of Pakistan to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU, declared that polio eradication is a priority for the Pakistani government, however her country is not only fighting polio, "Pakistan is waging many wars at the same time against terrorism, fundamentalism, intolerance as well as the disease" explaining that all these are linked. "We cannot fight and win alone" she concluded "and we are glad to have this international commitment." – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


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