With the goal of raising $100 million in support of efforts to eradicate, eliminate, and/or control preventable neglected diseases affecting the world's poorest people, the END Fund has announced the launch of the Reaching the Last Mile Fund.
Announced at the Reaching the Last Mile global health forum last week by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the fund will support efforts to accelerate ongoing efforts to eliminate river blindness (onchocerciasis) and lymphatic filariasis, which can lead to elephantiasis. The crown prince and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have pledged to contribute up to $20 million each to the fund, which will be managed by the END Fund, a philanthropic investment platform focused on tackling the five most common neglected tropical diseases.
Supported by in-kind contributions from GlaxoSmithKline and MSD, with co-investments from the United Kingdom's Department for International Development and USAID, the ten-year initiative will focus on the elimination of river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, as well as pediatric deworming efforts in target countries in Africa and the Middle East.
At the forum, the crown prince and the Gates Foundation also announced the creation of the Global Institute to Fight Infectious Diseases — a new institute based in Abu Dhabi that will work to translate data and advances in technology into policy.
"We are close to eradicating some of the world's deadliest and most debilitating preventable diseases that adversely affect the lives of millions of the world's poorest people," said Gates Foundation co-founder Bill Gates. "Our foundation is pleased to support the launch of a new fund created by His Highness the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed as well as the Global Institute to Fight Infectious Diseases in Abu Dhabi. These two initiatives will help accelerate the fight against preventable diseases."
"No human should suffer from a preventable disease, yet these neglected diseases continue to incapacitate millions of people in Africa and the Middle East. Elimination would help to lift millions more out of poverty, and drive a positive multiplier effect across the continent," said bin Zayed Al Nahyan. "There is a need for long-term vision and global partnership to achieve this, and we welcome partners to join us in making an impact."
(Photo credit: Reaching the Last Mile)