The Reaching the Last Mile Fund (RLMF) is paving the way to end two devastating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) – river blindness and lymphatic filariasis (LF).

While NTDs are rare in wealthy countries, they pose an ever-present threat in poor countries, where people often suffer from more than one NTD at once. These countries face poor access to clean water, limited healthcare services and environmental changes due to climate change – challenges that exacerbate the spread of those diseases while also keeping communities trapped in poverty. More than 1 in 5 people worldwide are affected by NTDs.


people are at risk for river blindness worldwide, 99% of them in Africa


people around the world require preventative chemotherapy for LF

US $ 1

the estimated annual cost caused by impairment from LF

NTDs affect the poorest of poor

NTDs are responsible for 170,000 preventable deaths each year and cause impairments that perpetuate the cycle of poverty by keeping millions of adults out of work and children out of school.

While effective treatment methods are available, communities threatened by NTDs are often difficult to reach with preventative medicine. At the same time, limited access to basic clinical care means that NTD symptoms can go untreated, causing devastating disabilities, such as blindness and disfigurement.

The Reaching the Last Mile Fund (RLMF)

Administered by the END Fund, RLMF is a 10-year, US$ 100 million fund launched in 2017 by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation  , The Helmsley Charitable Trust, and The ELMA Philanthropies.

A unique approach to disease elimination

The Fund focuses on elimination of river blindness and lymphatic filariasis in seven countries. When successful, it will be a pioneer in providing a proof of concept for eliminating these diseases in Africa.

Working in partnership with local governments and the WHO, the RLMF supports delivery of mass drug administration (MDA), working with pharmaceutical companies to provide the drugs for prevention and treatment free of charge. The Fund also supports disease elimination mapping, training for lab technicians, and other technical assistance and capacity building efforts.

In 2019, RLMF programs provided:

  • 15.1 million treatments worth $62 million.
  • Training to more than 358,883 health workers.
  • 438 surgeries to people suffering from advanced stages of elephantiasis.

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, RLMF programs provided:

  • 11.16 million treatments
  • Training to more than 174,211 health workers.

Learn more about the Reaching the Last Mile Fund's recent work in the new e-book.