The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI) announced its Healthcare and Disease Control projects and programmes touched the lives of 7.5 million people across the world in 2019, with a total spending of Dh118 million.

The Foundation’s numerous Healthcare and Disease Control initiatives and programmes work to eradicate infectious diseases that threaten wellbeing and hinder development in disadvantaged societies, through providing medical services to the most vulnerable groups, such as women, children and the elderly.

The two main entities, Al Jalila Foundation and Noor Dubai, lead MBRGI’s Healthcare & Disease Control efforts.

Noor Dubai’s work focuses on preventing blindness and visual impairment in developing countries regionally and internationally, while Al Jalila Foundation strives to develop medical treatment capabilities within the UAE and abroad, in addition to supporting education and research in medical science.

In 2019, MBRGI has expanded the scope of its Healthcare & Disease Control work to include financing medical research that seek to develop innovative treatments and improve the healthcare sector in developing countries across the world.

Health as top priority

His Excellency Saeed Al Eter, Assistant Secretary General of MBRGI, said, “Healthcare is the cornerstone of societies. The numerous initiatives and projects that aim to combat diseases and support the health sector in disadvantaged communities are central to the Foundation’s work. Under this vision, we aim to create healthy and productive societies that, in turn, enhances social stability and achieves sustainable development in countries across the globe.”

He added, “Healthcare today tops the list of priorities to drive economies and politics. The global outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic prompts us to invest more in our healthcare initiatives and campaigns on a local and global scale. Through a futuristic vision, we started to tackle health challenges in strategic partnerships with research institutions and medical centers across the globe.”

Al Eter noted, “The values of solidarity that the UAE adopts through supporting the health sector in countries with scarce resources reflect the long-standing priority that the UAE founders have placed on health since the country’s foundation.”

Better health for a better life

Dr. Manal Taryam, CEO of Noor Dubai, said, “Noor Dubai has stood out for its treatment, rehabilitation and empowerment programmes to maintain eye health.”

“Since its inception, Noor Dubai has envisioned a world free from avoidable causes of blindness. To eradicate all types of avoidable blindness, the Foundation provides preventative and therapeutic treatment and performs surgeries in disadvantaged communities across the world, especially in regions where blindness is exacerbated by a lack of adequate medical care, widespread poverty and scarce resources.”

She added, “Our goals at Noor Dubai transcends providing eye care to implementing comprehensive rehabilitation programmes for patients who have suffered from vision impairment or loss, allowing them to become active members of society. These sustainable efforts help fight unemployment and combat poverty, eventually achieving social stability.”

Taryam said, “Restoring one person’s vision can save an entire family from poverty or protect a child’s future that can fall behind due to blindness or visual impairment.”

She said the vital partnerships that Noor Dubai has established with a number of non-governmental and international organizations has helped implement numerous campaigns, programmes and medical camps and expand the scope of medical services to reach the largest number of beneficiaries across the world.

Supporting scientific research

Dr Raja Easa Saleh Al Gurg, Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Al Jalila Foundation and Member of the Board of Trustees, said, “The Foundation is driven by a strategic vision to develop sustainable treatment programmes that improve millions of lives.”

Al Jalila Foundation has maintained its strategic commitment with the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) as part of its global efforts to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus.

Supporting scientific research and inventing progressive treatment and medical equipment is central to Al Jalila Foundation’s work, especially at the given time. Al Gurg said the Foundation has allocated its seed grants this year to enable researchers to proactively respond to the current global challenge of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and other future viral diseases. Potential areas of research include diagnostics, epidemiology, transmission, therapeutics, and prevention related to Covid-19 virus in the UAE.

“Our programmes and initiatives at Al Jalila Foundation aims to build healthy societies through creating a map for major diseases and developing integrated strategies to eradicate diseases that threaten wellbeing in disadvantaged communities,” said Al Gurg.

Together against blindness

Working in collaboration with the US-based ‘The Carter Center’, Noor Dubai implemented the World Health Organization’s trachoma control strategy, SAFE – Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial Cleanliness and Environmental Improvement – through its ongoing ‘Trachoma Elimination Program’ that served about 6 million people in 2019, more than 16,000 of whom underwent surgery to correct trichiasis, a major risk factor for trachoma.

Throughout 2019, Noor Dubai continued its pursuit of a world free from blinding trachoma, particularly in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, one of the world’s most trachoma-endemic regions. In April of that year, Noor Dubai joined the International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC), an alliance of 34 non-governmental, private sector and academic organisations working together to eliminate trachoma globally through the implementation of the SAFE strategy.

Mobile eye camps in UAE and abroad

Through its four well-equipped mobile eye camps in Bangladesh and Senegal, Noor Dubai provided medical services to 20,486 patients and performed 2,158 surgeries in 2019.

Locally, Noor Dubai’s mobile eye clinics conducted more than 9,200 eye examinations as part of its efforts to provide early screenings and raise awareness on the importance of maintaining eye health among all segments of the UAE society.

Nabadat

In cooperation with the Dubai Health Authority, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian & Charity Establishment continues its humanitarian work through the ‘Nabadat’ (‘heartbeats’ in Arabic) initiative to treat children born with congenital heart defects in the UAE and abroad. In 2019, ‘Nabadat’ performed heart surgeries that saved the lives of 261 children – 100 in Morocco, 160 in Tajikistan and one child in Bangladesh.

1.4 million vaccines

In 2019, Al Jalila Foundation provided 1.4 million tetanus vaccines for mothers and newborns in several African countries as part of its global efforts to combat the excruciating disease in a collaboration with UNICEF. 

Al Jalila Foundation also partnered with the ‘Brest Friends’ support group to hold the fifth annual #PINKtober breast cancer awareness campaign during October 2019, featuring more than 400 fundraising events aimed at raising awareness and supporting breast cancer treatment and research. In the UAE, the Foundation provided more than Dh18 million in financial support to 235 patients.

Network of support

Solidifying its commitment to supporting children of determination, Al Jalila Foundation’s sixth edition of Ta’alouf (harmony in Arabic) programme provided training and psychological support for 234 parents and 63 teachers to help address the needs of the special children.

Research Excellence

Al Jalila Foundation invested Dh4.9 million in 2019 to support 38 medical research studies examining a variety of topics, including obesity, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and mental health.

The Foundation also awarded 20 scholarships, totaling more than Dh1.4 million, to postgraduate and undergraduate students from five local and international medical schools.

The Arab world’s largest heart center

In its third edition, the Arab Hope Makers initiative, which honours philanthropic efforts, adopted a humanitarian cause. For the first time ever, the initiative dedicated the proceeds from its grand variety show to support the construction of the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Centre in Egypt.

The fully-equipped Centre, once complete, will provide free-of-charge cardiac care to less fortunate communities across the Arab region. As part of the donation campaign, institutions and entrepreneurs in the UAE contributed Dh44 million to fund the hospital’s construction. His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, announced that the contributions would be matched, bringing the Arab Hope Makers initiative’s total donation to Dh88 million.

Story of Hope

Visually Impaired in the Prime of Life

Sirwar, a 35-year-old from Pakistan, works as a bus driver in the UAE. In the prime of his life, he suffered an injury in his right eye, which left him with impaired vision. Sirwar underwent surgery to repair his cornea as well as a vitrectomy, but to no avail. He went on with his life, and bearing the hardships that come with relying on only one eye for vision, until Noor Dubai offered him the long-awaited solution.

Noor Dubai supported him through its ‘UAE Treatment Program’ dedicated to low-income residents who suffer from critical eye diseases. Sirwar made a series of tests, before undergoing a surgery to remove silicon oil from his eye and implant an intraocular lens that eventually restored his vision. Although the operation was not costly, Sirwar could not personally afford it.

Not only did the Foundation cover the cost of his surgery, but it gave Sirwar hope as he continued working and providing for his family.