RLM Forum to focus on ‘accelerating the pace’ towards infectious disease elimination


ABU DHABI, 11th November, 2019 (WAM) -- The Reaching the Last Mile, RLM, Forum announced today its line-up of high-level speakers and sessions to take place at the invitation-only event in Abu Dhabi on 19th November.

The Forum, which will focus on Accelerating the Pace in infectious disease elimination, will feature a series of major announcements and milestone moments, including hosting the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, GPEI, pledging moment.

From global health leaders to protagonists in philanthropy, notable speakers at the Forum will include: Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation; Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Former Administrator of UNDP; Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation; Peter Sands, CEO of the Global Fund; and Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; and Dr. Chris Elias, President of Global Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Forum, being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will feature a mixture of keynote addresses, panel discussions and breakout sessions.

Over 250 preeminent global health leaders will be in attendance from across government, the private sector, philanthropy and academia. The event will celebrate successes, highlight challenges, and identify solutions regarding Reaching the Last Mile of disease elimination.

The Forum will cover numerous themes such as leveraging technology to strengthen health systems, strengthening advocacy efforts to bring more awareness to global health issues and celebrating unsung heroes and innovators in the field of disease elimination. There will also be several major announcements regarding neglected tropical diseases, NTDs, and a session presenting the findings of the Lancet Commission on Malaria Eradication.

The GPEI pledging moment happening at the Forum will reveal significant new financial commitments from key donors and partners towards the additional $3.27 billion needed to support the Polio Endgame Strategy 2019-2023, which lays out the roadmap to achieving and sustaining a world free of all polioviruses. The RLM Forum will launch the bridging of this funding gap and initiate the commitment of new resources needed to bring the world across the finish line on polio.

Commenting on the Forum, Dr. Chris Elias, President of Global Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said, "We are close to eradicating polio and other debilitating diseases that affect the world’s most vulnerable people. The Reaching the Last Mile Forum provides an incredible opportunity for some of the best minds in global health to come together and agree on next steps to end these diseases for good."

The winners of the biennial Recognising Excellence Around Champions of Health, REACH, Awards will also be unveiled at the Forum. The Awards celebrate frontline health workers who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership, courage and commitment in the field of disease elimination. The 15 extraordinary individuals selected this year as finalists have all played a transformative, frontline role in their respective health fields including working to eradicate polio, Ebola, malaria, sleeping sickness and onchocerciasis (river blindness).

In addition, the Lifetime Achievement Award will honour an individual who has dedicated his or her career to global health and development. In 2017, the Lifetime Achievement Award went to Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States and Founder of the Carter Centre, for the Carter Centre’s role at the forefront of combatting the Guinea Worm disease.

WAM/Esraa Ismail/Rasha Abubaker