The Fund is a ten-year, multi-donor fund, initiated and led by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, with additional support from other funders. It was announced on November 15, 2017 at the Reaching the Last Mile global health forum in Abu Dhabi. The Fund aims to pave the way for the global elimination of river blindness by building on past successes, complementing ongoing efforts, and reducing the disease’s global footprint. The Fund will also work towards the elimination of lymphatic filariasis in countries where these diseases are co-endemic.
River blindness (also known as onchocerciasis) is an eye and skin infection that is caused by a parasitic worm, transmitted by the bite of a black fly that lives and breeds in fast-flowing rivers and streams. It is the world’s fourth leading cause of preventable blindness and can also cause painful itching and skin lesions.
A mosquito-borne disease, lymphatic filariasis (LF) can cause elephantiasis, swelling of parts of the body caused by fluid build-up from improper functioning of the lymphatic system. This build-up can lead to severe disfigurement and disability. Though infection usually is acquired in childhood, the disfiguring effects are greatest in adults.