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Bill Gates Donates $750 Million to Shore Up Disease-Fighting Fund




 

The New York Times - January 26, 2012

In a show of faith in the faltering Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Bill Gates donated $750 million to the fund on Thursday.

The donation was made as a promissory note intended to tide the fund over regular cash shortages.

Mr. Gates, who made the announcement at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said tough economic times were "no excuse for cutting aid to the world's poorest," and called the fund one of the "most effective" entities to which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donates.

The Global Fund, which pays for AIDS drugs for more than 3 million poor people, has distributed more than 200 million mosquito nets and says it has prevented more than 4 million tuberculosis deaths. Now observing its 10th anniversary, it has been struggling to raise money[http://www.aegis.org/news/nyt/2010/NYT101005.html]. Its last fund-raising drive fell more than $1 billion short of the $13 billion the fund said it needed to continue existing grants. It recently said it could not make new ones.

Some government donors have backed away, either because of their own budget crises or because of thefts of the fund's money in different countries. While not large, the thefts have made persistent headlines and been seized on by opponents of foreign aid.

Mr. Gates has argued that a certain level of theft is inevitable in foreign aid and that the overall good outweighs that. Although national governments often make bigger donations, his foundation is a powerful force in global health both because of its wealth and because it speaks with one voice -- or, more accurately, with his voice and that of his wife.

"It's particularly important that we got a big whopping vote of confidence from a guy who is thought to have business sense," said Jon Liden, a spokesman for the fund.

Before the fund can make a new grant, Mr. Liden said, its own rules require it to have enough money in the bank to cover at least two years of expenses. Mr. Gates's promissory note "counts as cash in the bank," the fund said in a press release on its Web site.

The fund has also experienced inner turmoil. Its executive director, Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, resigned[www.aegis.org/news/nyt/2012/NYT120105.html] on Tuesday after the board split his job in half and appointed a manager to run day-to-day operations, essentially leaving him to raise funds and serve as an advocate.

Endorsing AIDS treatments represents something of a shift for Mr. Gates. Although he has given $650 million to the fund in the past, he has preferred to search for radical breakthroughs like a vaccine for H.I.V., which causes AIDS, arguing that others could pay for supplies like antiretroviral drugs.



 


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Information in this article was accurate in January 26, 2012. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.