Gates Foundation Moves to Close $750 Million Gap in Global Fund

Jean-Christophe Bott/KEYSTONE, via associated PressBill Gates in Davos on Thursday.

DAVOS, Switzerland — the bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said Thursday that it had stepped up its commitment to an international fund to fights AIDS and other diseases, pledging an additional $750 million to the organization.

Bill Gates, co-chairman of the foundation, the world’s largest charitable organization, said the group would make the money available immediately, aiming to close a gap in financing of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria that is the result of cutbacks in support from various governments.

“These are tough economic times, but that is no excuse for cutting aid to the world’s poorest,” mr. Gates said at the World Economic Forum here, where the AIDS fund is marking its 10th birthday. “The Global Fund is one of the most effective ways we invest our money every year.”

Some governments have frozen funding commitments or cut back on new pledges in recent months as the global economic crisis places strains on budgets. others were concerned about reports that some of the Global Fund’s money had been misused.

This week, the executive director of the fund, Michel Kazatchkine, said he would step down ahead of schedule, following the appointment of a general manager to oversee day-to-day operations. the official, a Brazilian retired bank executive, Gabriel Jaramillo, was on a panel that investigated the fund’s auditing.

The new donation from the Gates Foundation is a significant increase in the organization’s commitment to the Global Fund; over the last 10 years, the foundation had provided $650 million.

The Global Fund says it has provided AIDS treatment to 3.3 million people, treated 8.2 million people with tuberculosis and provided 230 million bed nets to help prevent infections with malaria. but funding has fallen well short of the $13 billion that the organization had hoped to raise during a current funding cycle.

“We face grave uncertainties with regard to resources as a result of the impact of the financial crisis: uncertainties about whether pledges will materialize in actual contributions to the Global Fund and a substantial decrease in our forecast of resources available up to 2013,” the fund said.

Other health groups welcomed the news of new funding from the Gates Foundation, but urged the Global Fund to get its house in order. the fund accounts for about one-quarter of the international financing to fight AIDS, and even larger proportions of funding to fight tuberculosis and malaria.

“As the Global Fund turns the page with its leadership changes, it needs to stick to its core values of getting the best and most affordable treatment to as many people as possible as quickly as possible,’’ Tido von Schoen-Angerer; executive director of the access campaign at Médecins Sans Frontières, said in a statement.

Gates Foundation Moves to Close $750 Million Gap in Global Fund


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