Wednesday 14 November 2018

Image courtesy: WAM

Abu Dhabi launches fund to combat diseases

ABU DHABI, November 16, 2017

Abu Dhabi has launched the Reaching the Last Mile Fund to raise $100 million with the aim of eradicating, eliminating, and controlling preventable diseases that hinder the health and economic prospects of the world’s poorest people.

The fund was launched by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, during his attendance of the global health forum, Reaching the Last Mile: Together to Eliminate Infectious Diseases, held in Abu Dhabi, reported Wam, the Emirates news agency.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed committed $20 million to the Fund, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute up to $20 million. The Fund will be managed by the END Fund, a philanthropic investment platform focused on tackling the five most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

The aim of this 10-year Fund is to support the elimination of two debilitating and preventable neglected diseases: river blindness (onchocerciasis) and lymphatic filariasis (which can lead to elephantiasis).

Sheikh Mohamed said: "The UAE, under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, continues to provide regional and international support for humanitarian, developmental and health initiatives that target countries and communities in need. The launch of this Fund is part of international efforts to rid the world of two debilitating and preventable diseases."

He added that neglected diseases continue to hinder the lives of millions across the Middle East and Africa. Eliminating them will have a positive multifaceted impact by lifting millions more across the region out of poverty, but to achieve these goals, there is an urgent need for long-term vision and global partnerships.

The Reaching the Last Mile Fund aims to raise $100 million to fast-track ongoing efforts to end river blindness and lymphatic filariasis in several countries in Africa and the Middle East.

The Fund is supported by in-kind contributions from GlaxoSmithKline plc, which will donate albendazole treatments over the next ten years to eliminate lymphatic filariasis and deworm school-age children in target countries, and MSD, which will donate ivermectin to eliminate lymphatic filariasis and river blindness through the Mectizan Donation Program, with co-investments from the UK Department for International Development (DfID) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Over ten years, the fund will help to close the gap to elimination and verification in target countries with few or no cases of river blindness, and scale up activities and mass drug administration programs in high-burden countries. The coalition will top up and strengthen existing programs, working through partners that are well established in the field, and increase impact by using an integrated approach in areas where river blindness is prevalent alongside lymphatic filariasis, which requires a complementary drug treatment program.

Ellen Agler, END Fund chief executive officer, said: "Launched during the official ‘Year of Giving’ in the UAE, this new initiative will ensure millions of people do not have to suffer from blindness and disfigurement from neglected tropical diseases. The vision, compassion, and leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed is exactly what the global community needs now to fast track efforts to get over the finish line and end these diseases for good. All of us at the END Fund are immensely honoured to be asked to host this initiative and help ensure that this vision becomes a reality."

At the Reaching the Last Mile forum, Bill Gates will outline plans to develop a state-of the-art disease elimination institute in Abu Dhabi, in partnership with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The institute will work with international partners to leverage Abu Dhabi’s unique talents in the global effort to end diseases, and translate data on diseases into actionable policy across the wider region within which Abu Dhabi sits.

Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: "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. 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."

Tags: sheikh mohammed | fund | Bill Gates |

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