The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a long history of philanthropy and humanitarian support that pre-dates the founding of the nation in 1971. The earliest UAE development efforts focused domestically, establishing the infrastructure and systems that are the cornerstone of modern-day UAE. The UAE very quickly turned its attention to supporting those in need regionally and globally. Today, the OECD ranks the UAE as the leading top global donors of Official Development Assistance (ODA) according as a share of Gross National Income (GNI).

More than 30 years ago, UAE founder Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan began to publicly support disease eradication. His Highness forged a partnership with The Carter Center around Guinea worm disease eradication that continues to the present. This legacy has been preserved by his sons, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, who are both strong supporters of Guinea worm disease eradication, among other preventable diseases.

In 2013, Abu Dhabi convened the Global Vaccine Summit, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which raised $4 billion in commitments to polio eradication. The UAE has been actively involved in supporting global public-private global health partnerships such as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI); Gavi, the Global Vaccine Alliance; and Roll Back Malaria. These efforts very much underscore the belief of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan that no one should die from preventable disease and that the ability for people to live a healthy life is a key driver of development, which leads to stable, prosperous societies.

Through the leadership of the nation and the spirit of the Emirati people, philanthropic and humanitarian support of those in need both domestically and abroad is deeply embedded in the fabric of UAE culture. However, the UAE knows it cannot forge ahead alone – collaboration is key to creating sustainable impact and advancing effective global health efforts.

The Reaching the Last Mile global health forum, held in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Carter Center, aims to convene key global health stakeholders to ensure that preventable diseases are at the forefront of global agendas and to catalyze action to reach the very last mile of eliminating and eradicating debilitating, yet preventable diseases.


Reaching the Last Mile: Mobilizing Together to Eliminate Infectious Diseases is a milestone convening of global health leaders focused on accelerating the elimination of deadly infectious diseases, such as polio and malaria, and preventable NTDs, such as Guinea-worm disease and River Blindness.

The Forum will be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and is driven from His Highness' conviction that no human should die from a preventable disease and that investment in health is crucial to global development.

In partnership with The Carter Center and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Forum will convene over 200 government officials, bilateral and multilateral aid leaders, global health experts, and industry leaders to share insights and best practice on how to map out, eliminate, and eradicate disease. Interactive sessions, discussions, and workshops will celebrate successes, highlight challenges, and identify solutions through the use of vaccines, technology, global health infrastructure, and public-private partnerships.

The Forum will take place at the Abu Dhabi Global Market on November 15, 2017, and will be held in partnership with local and federal health entities and donor organizations. Participation is by invitation only.



A life-threatening yet preventable and curable disease caused by parasites, transmitted through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. In 2015 nearly half of the world's population was at risk. Yet 90% of cases and 92% of deaths occurred in the region of sub-Saharan Africa. South-East Asia, Latin America and the Middle East are also at risk.  

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Also known as Poliomyelitis, a highly infectious disease caused by a virus which invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. Cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350 000 to 37 reported cases in 2016. As a result of the global effort to eradicate the disease, more than 16 million people have been saved from paralysis. Since 2000, more than 10 billion doses of OPV (Oral polio vaccine) have been administered to nearly 3 billion children worldwide, preventing more than 13 million cases of the disease.

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856 million people in 52 countries worldwide are at risk of this disease commonly known as elephantiasis. Infection occurs when filarial parasites are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes, usually in childhood. A painful and profoundly disfiguring NTD, it can leave patients physically disabled and contribute to mental, social and financial losses, stigma and poverty.

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Approximately 1.5 billion people - a quarter of the world’s population - have been infected by soil-transmitted helminth infections such as hookworm, as well as roundworm and whipworm. Humans are infected when eggs present in human feces contaminate soil in areas where sanitation is poor.  Over 267 million preschool-age children and over 568 million school-age children live in affected areas.

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Snail Fever

An acute and chronic disease caused by parasitic worms. According to WHO estimates, at least 206.5 million people required preventive treatment in 2016. Transmission of the NTD has been reported in 78 countries.

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 This disease of the eye is a public health problem in 41 countries and is responsible for the blindness or visual impairment of 1.9 million people. In 2016, over 190 million were living in affected areas and at risk of trachoma blindness, an irreversible disease. Infection spreads through personal contact, and flies that have been in contact with discharge from an infected person. 

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River Blindness

Onchocerciasis is an eye and skin disease caused by a parasitic worm and is transmitted through exposure to repeated bites from infected blackflies. The parasitic disease occurs mainly in tropical areas, with more than 99% of infected people living in 31 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.    

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Guinea Worm

This crippling parasitic disease, also known as Dracunculiasis, is caused by a long, thread-like worm and transmitted when stagnant water contaminated by parasite-infected water fleas is swallowed. During the mid-1980s an estimated 3.5 million cases occurred in 20 countries worldwide, 17 of which were in Africa. In 2016, only 25 cases were reported globally.

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Registration Opens

Refreshments and light breakfast served

08:30 AM - 09:30 AM

Welcome from Master of Ceremonies

Dr. Celine Gounder, Infectious Disease Specialist & Journalist

Dr. Celine Gounder

09:30 AM - 09:35 AM

Opening Session

09:35 AM - 09:50 AM

Special Remarks by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

(Video Address)

09:50 AM - 09:55 AM

Short Clip

UAE Polio Campaign

09:55 AM - 10:00 AM

The UAE Perspective

Overview of the UAE perspective on global health

Dr. Maha Barakat

10:00 AM - 10:15 AM

Polio and Guinea Worm Disease: How do We Cross the Line?

Not since the last case of smallpox in Somalia in 1977 has a human infectious disease disappeared from the face of the earth. However, the world is now nearing eradication of two diseases: polio and Guinea worm. This session will explore what needs to happen to end these diseases, drawing on lessons learned.

Dennis Ogbe Dr. Larry Brilliant, MD, MPH, DSc Dr. Ernesto Ruiz-Tiben

10:15 AM - 11:00 AM

Coffee Break

Refreshments served

11:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Ending Malaria: What Will It Take?

Thanks to effective interventions and increased political commitment, there has been remarkable progress against malaria over the past 15 years. Yet, malaria still claims a child’s life every two minutes and sucks the lifeblood out of economies, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. This session will focus on where there has been success against the disease, the most pressing challenges that remain and research on potentially game-changing innovations that could ultimately bring an end to malaria globally.

Discussion Leader: Dr. Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, Chair, RBM Partnership to End Malaria and Former Assistant Director-General, World Health Organization

Prof. Austin Burt Hon. Dr. Rajitha Harischandra Senaratne Dr. Pedro Alonso

11:30 AM - 12:20 PM


Attendees can also take time to view the Countdown to Zero Exhibition at Al Maryah Island’s Promenade

12:20 PM - 01:55 PM

Developing and Delivering New Tools for NTDs

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) have plagued mankind for thousands of years. The world has used existing tools to make tremendous progress in recent years, but new technologies are necessary to end these ancient diseases. Fortunately, several potentially revolutionary changes are on the horizon, and public and private partners are coming together to not just finish their development but also create the programs and provide the funding to get them to those in need. This session will focus on the progress that’s been made, leading innovations in NTD technology and the public-private sector’s contribution.

Discussion Leader: Ellen Agler, Chief Executive Officer, The END Fund

Andy Wright Ellen Agler

01:55 PM - 02:40 PM


Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President, The World Bank Group

Jim Yong Kim

02:40 PM - 03:00 PM

Main Plenary
A Conversation on Partnering for Disease Elimination

Organizations come to disease elimination from their own specific health and development agendas: advancing universal health coverage, economic development, global political stability and many others. Yet what they share is the common understanding that success is only possible through robust, targeted partnerships. This session will focus on the importance of these partnerships to ending infectious diseases.

H.E. Reem Al Hashimy Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

03:00 PM - 03:40 PM

Coffee Break

Refreshments served

03:40 PM - 04:00 PM

Solving Health Challenges with Technology

Speech by Bill Gates, Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill Gates

04:00 PM - 04:10 PM

The Recognizing Excellence Around Champions of Health (REACH) Awards

The REACH awards ceremony will honor the work of individuals that have been instrumental in efforts to eradicate Guinea worm disease.

04:10 PM - 04:40 PM

Closing Session

04:40 PM - 05:00 PM


Reception with refreshments and viewing of the Countdown To Zero exhibition at Al Maryah Island Promenade.

07:00 PM - 08:30 PM



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