His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has launched a $100 million global fund to eradicate river blindness (onchocerciasis) and lymphatic filariasis.
Sheikh Mohamed has personally pledged $20 million to 'Reaching the Last Mile Fund' that he announced on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Reaching the Last Mile global health forum, hosted in Abu Dhabi.
"We are proud to launch the Reaching the Last Mile Fund, a global partnership that will build on past successes and complement ongoing international efforts to free the world of two devastating 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," said Sheikh Mohamed.
"Elimination would help to lift millions more out of poverty, and drive a positive multiplier effect across the continent. 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," he added.
With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that has also pledged up to $20 million, 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, and eliminate this two debilitating and preventable neglected diseases. The fund will be managed by End Fund, a private philanthropic initiative that works for neglected disease eradication, and will be supported by in-kind contributions from GlaxoSmithKline plc and MSD, which will vaccinate and de-worm school children in target countries.
Ellen Agler, End Fund CEO, 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 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."
"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 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," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
Reaching the Last Mile forum has brought together various public and private stakeholders to galvanise efforts focused on eradicating, eliminating, and controlling preventable diseases that hinder the health and economic prospects of the world's poorest people.
Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group; Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation; Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation; Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development; and Dr Maha Barakat, member of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership; and ministers of Health from around the world and other health experts were present.
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, outlined plans to develop a state-of the-art disease elimination institute in Abu Dhabi, in partnership with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed. 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. KT Nano Edit
The UAE rightly believes that if people are given the opportunity to lead healthy lives, they can get an education and contribute to the economy, thus generating a multiplier effect. It also believes that a holistic approach which includes partnership and regular convening of global forums where insights are shared, are essential for disease eradication. It is in this light that the contribution of $30 million by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhab, to the Roll Back Malaria partnership has to be seen.