The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria celebrated its tenth anniversary today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, capped by an announcement by Bill Gates that his foundation is infusing the Fund with a new $750 million donation.
The donation, in the form of a promissory note, “gives the Global Fund the flexibility and authority to distribute funds efficiently based on immediate needs,” the Gates Foundation said. “By supporting the Global Fund, we can help to change the fortunes of the poorest countries in the world,” Gates said in a statement. “I can’t think of more important work.”
Gates asserted in press conference at the World Economic Forum that tough economic times were “no excuse for cutting aid to the world’s poorest.” He called the Fund one of the “most effective” entities to which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donates. Gates also downplayed the reports that came out last year that chronicled the misappropriation of some funding — reports that grabbed headlines and served to bolster arguments by foes of foreign aid.
“The internal checks and balances have worked in every case,” Gates said. But, he added, “If you’re going to do business in Africa, you’re going to have some losses.” Gates added that it was “disappointing” to see how people have focused on a “small misuse of funds.”
Some of the fallout from that glitch, coupled with the weak economy, have caused donations to falter as some countries have backed out of their commitments. In its most recent funding round at the end of 2011, the Global Fund came up $1 billion short of its projections, and was forced to stop funding new grants until 2014. And just two days ago, executive director Dr. Michel Kazatchkine resigned when the Fund announced a restructuring.
But what’s critical to consider is that the benefits have far outweighed the losses, and an unfortunate episode that often goes hand in hand with foreign aid no matter how transparent the operation, should not result in lives lost. In its ten years, the Global Fund has done remarkable work, and has funded programs in 150 countries to date.
Thanks to the programs the Global Fund supports:
- 7.7 million lives have been saved
- 3.3 million people have received anti-retroviral treatment to fight HIV/AIDS
- 1.3 million HIV-positive pregnant mothers have been able to protect their babies from being born with HIV
- 8.6 million new cases of TB have been detected and treated
- 230 million insecticide-treated bed nets have been distributed to protect families against malaria
- 5.6 million orphans have been cared for
Also critical to consider: the Global Fund currently provides about two thirds of all international financing in the world to fight malaria, more than 80% of international financing to fight TB and approximately one quarter of the global financing for AIDS. The need for the Fund to remain robust goes without question.
The Global Fund was conceived on January 28, 2002 in Davos as an emergency response to these three killer diseases. The Gates Foundation’s new vote of confidence — which comes on the heels of the $650 million it has already donated to the Fund over the past decade — is a signal to the world that ten years on, the Global Fund’s work is as vital as ever as it continues to save untold millions from the scourge of AIDS, TB and malaria. The Global Fund needs our support both for the impact it’s had, and the impact yet to come.
Watch this amazing and beautiful video as some of the Global Fund’s best known supporters and strongest advocates — from Bono and Bill Gates to Jeffrey Sachs, Gro Harlem Bruntland and Bill Clinton — celebrate the impact and work of the Fund and call for continuing action in the fight against the diseases of poverty.
screen shot from video courtesy of The Global Fund