AmBisome/WHO Donation Project

Gilead has worked closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and non-governmental organizations since 1992 to provide our antifungal medication to countries in which visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is endemic.
Intergovernmental Organizations and Multilaterals 1

To provide our antifungal medication, AmBisome, to countries in which VL is endemic, in alignment with the WHO goal of eliminating VL in endemic countries by 2020.

Visceral leishmaniasis is one of the deadliest parasitic diseases in the world, responsible for approximately 30,000 deaths each year. Gilead has worked closely with WHO and non-governmental organizations since 1992 to provide our antifungal medication to countries in which the disease is endemic. The program operates in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nepal, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda as well as other countries in the Eastern Africa sub-region and South East Asia where VL is endemic. Over 90 percent of new cases are reported from just seven countries: Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. However, just six years ago, case estimates ranged up to 300,000 cases per year.

Gilead is one of 20 original endorsers of the ‘London Declaration’ on Neglected Tropical Diseases – a collaborative disease elimination and eradication program inspired by the WHO’s 2020 roadmap to eradicate neglected tropical diseases.

In 2011, Gilead donated 445,000 vials of AmBisome to treat more than 50,000 people over five years and provided funding to expand the number of VL treatment centers available. In 2016, Gilead provided $20 million in additional funding and drug donations to expand access for diagnostic services and VL treatment. In 2022 Gilead extended the collaboration for three years, which will provide $11.3 million in funding and drug donations. Gilead’s current agreement to support WHO’s leishmaniasis control program extends through 2025.

This long-standing collaboration has significantly contributed to reducing VL morbidity in South East Asia, which has declined by more than 82 percent while the case fatality has decreased by 95 percent. An estimated 50,000-90,000 new cases occur each year, which underscores the need for continued collaboration and commitment.

In addition to treatment, the program also includes funding to support countries’ national plans and to enable WHO to expand and reinforce surveillance and control efforts in highly endemic areas, including creating a sustainable infrastructure to improve diagnosis and treatment of VL. Gilead also coordinates additional capacity building initiatives to combat VL in affected countries and to educate healthcare professionals.

"Your LAmB donation is having a huge impact. I hope you and other Gilead employees get to Bihar and have the chance to see this in person. It is Pharma at its best!"
Bill Gates
Co-Chair And Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Results and milestones

Since 2011, Gilead has donated more than 800,000 total vials of AmBisome for this program.

The following results were shared at the 2018 Neglected Tropical Diseases Summit:

  • The proportion of VL cases treated with AmBisome has increased from less than 10 percent in 2012 to 94 percent by 2016.
  • As a result of Gilead’s support, approximately 270 health facilities are equipped to diagnose VL, provide cold chain storage and administer AmBisome in Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal – compared to less than 15 in 2011. This network of health facilities covers approximately 268 million at-risk individuals in regions where approximately 400,000 new cases of VL are identified each year.
  • In South East Asia, VL morbidity was reduced by over 82 percent and the case fatality rate decreased by 95 percent. In East Africa, the VL case fatality rate decreased by 60 percent.
  • Three South East Asian countries – Bangladesh, India and Nepal – are poised to eliminate the disease by 2020. The elimination definition (less than 1 case /10,000 population during 3 years) has been achieved in 100 percent of districts in Nepal, 97 percent of sub-districts in Bangladesh and 82 percent in India.
Geographic Reach
  • Africa
  • South-East Asia
See Where
Disease Area
  • Infectious and Parasitic Disease
See Disease Areas
Target Population
SGDs the partnership contributes to
SDG 3: Good health and well-being
  1. 3.8: Achieve universal health coverage
  2. 3.C: Health workforce
SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals 
Partner organizations
Intergovernmental Organizations and Multilaterals
World Health Organization

WHO handles all aspects of the program following delivery of the product from Gilead, including in-country supply chain and on the ground implementation of the program.