28th November, 2015


Event hosted by Image Nation Abu Dhabi and Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health

Cambridge MA, Nov 17, 2015: Image Nation Abu Dhabi, one of the leading entertainment companies in the Middle East, partnered with the prestigious Harvard University to host a panel discussion on the plight of polio and the United Arab Emirates’ ongoing work to help eradicate the crippling disease. The event was attended by Emirati students based in Boston and Cambridge MA, representing the future leaders of the UAE and global health professionals.

The new Consul General of the UAE in Boston, His Excellency Salem Al Shamsi, attended the event which was overseen by the Harvard T. H Chan School of Public Health.

“Events like this not only help to raise awareness of the ongoing work towards polio eradication that the UAE is committed to supporting, but also provide the opportunity to bring together the Emirati students and academics based in Boston and Cambridge,” said His Excellency Salem Al Shamsi. “I’m proud to see a mix of students from the Emirates and the Massachusetts’ academic community here tonight and collaborating to advance the conversation on polio eradication.”

Professor Rifat Atun, Professor of Global Health Systems at Harvard University, oversaw the event, which had a dual panel of experts and students. The student panel included speakers from Nigeria, which was declared Polio free earlier this year, and Pakistan, which continues its efforts to eradicate the disease.

Professor Atun commented: “There have been incredible advancements in the fight to eradicate polio – but there is still work to be done. That’s why it is still crucial that this topic is discussed at events such as this, with the next generation of leaders and health professionals.

During the event, Image Nation screened clips of its critically-acclaimed documentary, Every Last Child, which follows the plight of five people impacted by polio in Pakistan. The documentary was originally created to raise international awareness and inform influencers of the polio crisis in Pakistan.

As a companion piece to the film, Image Nation has recently created a study guide aimed at university students to assist learning and spark further discussions around the disease and its perception globally. The guides have been distributed to Professor Atun’s students at Harvard, and can be used as educational tools for university students around the world with a focus on global public health issues.

In line with the UAE’s ongoing commitment to providing humanitarian assistance for vulnerable children around the world, the country has emerged as a leader in the fight against polio. Since 2011, the UAE has worked in partnership with the Gates Foundation to promote public health through supporting the distribution of vaccines, including for polio eradication efforts. In 2013, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Gates Foundation, hosted the first Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi. The UAE has pledged $120 million to date to support polio eradication efforts.

Between 2014 and May of 2015, the UAE Anti-Polio Vaccination Campaign supported the administration of 86.6 million vaccination doses across 53 areas in Pakistan.

Mohamed Al Mubarak, Chairman of Image Nation Abu Dhabi said: “Image Nation aims to create films that support the UAE’s commitment to helping causes in our region and beyond. Our documentaries are not just created for entertainment purposes, they are supported by social campaigns that can lead to real change in the world.

“It is an honour to support this campaign and help to tell the story of the tireless efforts of the polio workers on the ground in Pakistan.”

Image Nation have lead a campaign to raise awareness about the polio campaign around the world, hosting panel discussions at the United Nations, UNESCO and the European Union. Last month in aid of World Polio Day, His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the United States, hosted an event in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, at the UAE Embassy in Washington DC.