Only five cases of the highly infectious disease reported in 2017 thanks to ongoing efforts

Thirty years ago, polio was responsible for paralysing more than 350,000 children annually in over 125 countries around the world.

That’s a pretty grim statistic.

Thankfully, through the hard work of governments and partners of institutions like the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the highly infectious disease has now been wiped out in all but Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

That doesn’t mean there still isn’t work to be done, which is precisely why the UAE, via HH Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces has pledged US$30 million (Dhs110 million) to the cause.

Tech billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates, who also co-chairs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that is a major donor of the GPEI, took to his 35 million strong Twitter followers to personally congratulate the UAE for their commitment.

This is not the first time that the Crown Prince has got behind some noble causes. In 2011 he gave US$100 million for vaccines in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in 2013 the UAE hosted the inaugural Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi.

Clearly it’s working, as so far this year there have only been 5 reported cases of the disease.

The pledge was announced on Monday, alongside others from Canada, Japan and the European Commission, at the Rotary Convention in Atlanta as part of a larger drive to raise US$1.2 billion to finally put an end to polio once and for all.

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Image: Getty