We are in Abu Dhabi this week for an extraordinary reason (though it’s pretty cool, it’s not for the ATM machine that dispenses gold). On Wednesday, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Bill Gates announced a $100 million partnership.
In Afghanistan, it is estimated that 25 percent of children die before the age of five. As a mother living there, you may lose at least one (if not more) of your children to pneumonia, a disease that would be easily prevented with a vaccine if you lived in a developed country. In Pakistan, 1 in 10 children die before their fifth birthday, and a serious health challenge—polio—continues to threaten millions of children.
These are devastating, but real, scenarios for mothers in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And now, thanks to this partnership, over the next four years, millions of Afghan children will be vaccinated from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, Hib, and soon pneumonia. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, where polio continues to be transmitted, the partnership will assault its spread over the next critical 12 months, helping ensure that we reach 35 million children with oral polio vaccines.
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed has a long history of generous giving that has rarely been public. This week, he will raise his voice on these issues. But he will not be the only one.
This is what has made our last few days between Abu Dhabi and Dubai even more exciting. We have met others here in the United Arab Emirates who see the importance and need to give and volunteer to help the most burdened people live healthier and more productive lives. Whether it’s vaccinating generations of children, committing to the eradication of polio or guinea worm, or supporting the research and development that make all of this possible, this effort marks the beginning of a new generation of giving to ensure better futures for the most vulnerable children.
Now that’s extraordinary.