Qatar Charity has agreed to raise funds in support of a six-year plan backed by the World Health Organization to eradicate polio globally.
Based on an agreement signed in Doha yesterday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will match funds raised by Qatar Charity for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).
Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, signed the agreement on behalf of his foundation on the eve of the first Global Vaccine Summit, which is being held in neighboring Abu Dhabi.
On his foundation’s website, Gates explains why he thinks the summit is so important:
“…[At the summit,] the Global Polio Eradication Initiative will roll out a new strategy to end polio once and for all. Global leaders will discuss their confidence in the plan and pledge political and financial commitments to help ensure its success.
Why Abu Dhabi? His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, is joining UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and me to host the Summit, the first of its kind. The Crown Prince, an important partner of the foundation across several issues, represents to me the inspirational leadership we are seeing from the Middle Eastern and Islamic communities to improve child health worldwide.”
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) was first launched in 1988, when the virus was endemic in some 125 countries, paralyzing up to 350,000 people a year.
Today, global efforts have narrowed that list to only three countries where polio remains an issue, namely: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.
For its part, Qatar Charity has named two new “ambassadors” to help spread the word about its campaigns: Sheikh Saud Bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, Secretary-General of the Qatar Olympic Committee, and Qatari TV presenter Mohammed Saadon Al Kuwari.
The two humanitarian ambassadors will take on roles in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in Pakistan, according to Qatar News Agency.
Credit: Top photo courtesy of the Gates Foundation, second photo courtesy Qatar Olympic Committee