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Thu 16 Nov 2017 09:40 AM

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UAE launches $100m charity fund with Bill Gates

New fund will aim to tackle tropical diseases in MENA region

UAE launches $100m charity fund with Bill Gates
The UAE launched a new fund aimed at raising $100m to combat neglected tropical diseases, at a global health forum in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

The UAE launched a new fund aimed at raising $100m to combat neglected tropical diseases, at a global health forum in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

The Last Mile Fund was set up with an initial $20 million donation from the UAE and a up to $20 million pledged by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Over 10 years, the fund will aim to support efforts to combat some of the world’s deadliest and most devastating diseases, such as river blindness and other preventable and disfiguring diseases in Africa and the Middle East.

The fund will be managed by philanthropic investment platform, The END Fund, which is focused on tackling five of the most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) suffered the world’s poorest people.

At the event, Ellen Agler, The END Fund CEO, said, "The new initiative will ensure millions of people are spared blindness and disfigurement from neglected tropical diseases."

Also attending the health summit was Jim Young Kim, President of the World Bank Group; Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization; Bill Gates, Co-chair & Trustee, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation;  and UAE leaders.

During the event, Gates outlined plans to develop a state-of the-art research institute in Abu Dhabi, in partnership with the UAE government, that will work with international partners to research deadly diseases and turn data into actionable policy in the region.

Sheikh Mohammed stressed the urgent need for a long-term vision and global partnerships in order for the fund to achieve its goals.

UK pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline, also pledged medicines over the next ten years to combat some of the most commonly diagnosed illnesses.

Sheikh Mohamed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, said he hoped the fund would build on successes of the international aid organisations in wiping out such 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 Sheikh Mohamed.

US-based Carter Centre, which has been at the forefront of fighting infectious diseases in Africa, was commended for its work in bringing the Guinea worm, found in drinking water, to the brink of eradication.