UAE campaign raises funds to help three million by fighting neglected tropical diseases

The Reach Campaign’s initiative runs up to the Golden Jubilee and seeks to free dozens of countries from river blindness and lymphatic filariasis

A UAE campaign that aims to raise awareness and funds to eradicate two neglected tropical diseases has already collected enough money to help three million people in Africa.

The Reach Campaign’s 50 Days to Transform Five Million Lives initiative was launched on October 14 and will run until the country’s Golden Jubilee.

The projects seeks to free dozens of countries from two parasitic infections: river blindness and lymphatic filariasis.

Organisers announced on Monday that the campaign had just passed the halfway point.

Several companies, such as Adnoc, Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Lulu Group International and Rivoli Group’s Watches & Vision Care divisions, organised events and promotions to help raise money.

Dubai Cares has pledged to donate Dh50,000 ($13,600) to the Reach Campaign.

Abu Dhabi Sports Council will donate a percentage of each runner’s entry fee to the 2021 Adnoc Abu Dhabi Marathon.

Meanwhile independent coffee shops BRDG, DRVN Coffee, Dialogue, H’s Coffee, Kava and Chai, Morsel, Notes, Pentagon, Shot, Coffee Architecture and Ten 11 will continue to offer in-store promotions until the end of the campaign.

The Reach Campaign has invited the public to contribute to the initiative by visiting the Dubai Cares webpage, by texting GIVE to 2424, or through Reach’s website:

All proceeds from the 50-day campaign will benefit the Reaching the Last Mile Fund (RLMF) to eliminate the two diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.

The End Fund, a philanthropic investment platform that aims to tackle the five most common neglected tropical diseases, manages the RLMF.

The 10-year, $100 million initiative was established in 2017 by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, along with other supporters, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Elma Philanthropies.

All funds raised by the Reach Campaign are administered by the RLMF.

It offers preventive treatment for neglected tropical diseases and focuses on ways to eliminate them, such as investing in disease mapping efforts and supporting advanced labs and cross-border collaborations.

To date, the money raised has helped more than 800 million people across seven countries.

The Reach Campaign's drive aims to raise funds to support these activities and help protect at least five million people from river blindness and lymphatic filariasis.

“We are humbled by the level of support this vital initiative has received from various platforms across our community," said Tala Al Ramahi, acting managing director for the group.

"Our partners and participating brands have demonstrated once again the true values that have guided our nation in extending a hand to people in need.

“The campaign has worked with every partner to maximise our footprint, awareness and fundraising efforts. To know that we have the capacity to positively impact the lives of three million people so far is a remarkable milestone for which we are very grateful.”

What are neglected tropical diseases?

It is an umbrella term for a group of parasitic and bacterial infectious diseases that affect more than 1.7 billion of the world’s most marginalised and impoverished people, including more than one billion children.

The diseases tend to be neglected because they are not as deadly as others. About 170,000 people die from neglected tropical diseases every year, said Daniel Boakye, senior technical adviser of programmes at the End Fund.

River blindness, or onchocerciasis, is a parasitic infection caused by a worm. It is spread by repeated bites from a type of fly that lives near fast-flowing rivers.

The infection causes severe skin irritation and ultimately irreversible blindness. It mainly affects African countries.

Lymphatic filariasis is caused by tiny threadlike worms that live in the human lymph system. It is spread from person to person by mosquitoes.

Those who suffer from the condition are often shunned by their communities and unable to work owing to their symptoms, which can include swelling that becomes disfiguring.

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Updated: November 9th 2021, 9:38 AM