Helmsley Charitable Trust Announces Catalytic Investment to Eliminate Two Neglected Tropical Diseases in East Africa

26 April 2022
Investment in the Reaching the Last Mile Fund, led by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court and administered by the END Fund, comes in the leadup to the Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs

Abu Dhabi, 26 April 2022 – The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announced an historic investment to eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan at a press event in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court and the END Fund. The Helmsley Charitable Trust will invest $22.5 million dollars over three years to the Reaching the Last Mile Fund (RLMF), a 10-year, multi-donor fund launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. The investment will accelerate treatment and elimination of onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (LF), in three countries with significant disease burden.

Walter Panzirer, Trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust, said: “The Helmsley Charitable Trust is focused on ensuring the well-being of vulnerable children and their families in Africa, and we know that building resilience and strengthening health services are critical pathways to achieve this. Through our investment in the Reaching the Last Mile Fund, we are proud to join a network of like-minded investors to accelerate the treatment and elimination of these devastating diseases and improve the lives and livelihoods of children and families across Ethiopia and its borders.”

His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, commented: “We thank the Helmsley Charitable Trust for their generous investment in the Reaching the Last Mile Fund. We look forward to accelerating progress on ending NTDs with this significant new commitment. Helmsley shares the UAE’s long-held values of helping those in need and empowering people to live healthier and more dignified lives.”

The Reaching the Last Mile Fund is a $100 million global partnership between philanthropists, governments, and NGOs that aims to eliminate river blindness and lymphatic filariasis around the world by building on past successes, complementing ongoing efforts, and reducing the diseases’ global footprint. To catalyze faster change, RLMF adopts an approach that encourages active partnership, innovative financing, and the development of new areas of expertise to combat NTDs.

Alan McCormick, a Partner at Legatum and a Board Member of the END Fund, added: “This significant investment from the Helmsley Charitable Trust comes at an especially important moment in the fight against NTDs. With the elimination of NTDs not only in sight, but possible within our lifetimes, we must act with urgency and inspire more people to invest in this movement in order to reach the finish line. The END Fund is proud to provide a collaborative and flexible funding platform that creates greater leverage, reduces risk for investors, and supports governments and local partners in their NTD elimination efforts.”

NTDs affect more than 1.7 billion people – often those living in remote, under-resourced communities, and without access to basic needs like clean water. They also contribute to the loss of billions of dollars every year in countries where they are endemic, due to disability, decreased productivity and caretaker burden. Significant progress has been made since the landmark 2012 London Declaration on NTDs, which unified partners across sectors, countries and disease communities to push for greater investment and action on NTDs. Launched in early 2022, the Kigali Declaration builds upon the goals established by the London Declaration and places agency and ownership in the hands of individuals and communities to deliver on the targets set out in the World Health Organization’s NTD Roadmap (2021-2030).

Over the coming months, the NTD community will be focused on mobilizing resources to ensure continued progress toward eliminating NTDs, a goal now in range within our lifetimes. Following the Kigali Declaration, and ahead of the high-level NTD Summit alongside Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the Helmsley Charitable Trust, Crown Prince Court and the END Fund welcome and encourage new and creative collaborations and investments to accelerate action to eliminate NTDs.



About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $3 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. For more information on Helmsley and its programs, visit helmsleytrust.org.


About the END Fund

The END Fund is a private philanthropic initiative that exists to end the most prevalent Neglected Tropical Diseases. The fund efficiently puts private capital to work, advocating for NTD programs that are innovative, integrated and cost-effective. It facilitates strong partnerships with the private sector, government partners, and local implementing partners to collaboratively support national disease programs. This is done through a proven implementation model that is tailored to meet the needs of individual countries, with the view to fostering healthier communities, protected from the risks of NTDs. Since its founding in 2012, along with partners, the END Fund has distributed over 1 billion treatments across 31 countries, performed over 43,000 blindness and disability-preventing surgeries; and trained nearly 3.5 million health workers to pre-empt and treat neglected tropical diseases.