The Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced an additional $50 million grant to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, bringing its total contribution to the fund to $150 million, and is urging other organizations and governments to increase their commitments to the fund.
Dr. Helene Gayle, director of the foundation's HIV, TB, and Reproductive Health program, made the announcement at a special screening of 46664: The Message, a film based on a November 2003 Cape Town concert honoring Nelson Mandela, at the recently concluded international AIDS conference in Bangkok, Thailand. "Thanks in large part to the fund, many more people in developing countries now have access to HIV prevention and care and life-saving interventions for TB and malaria than just two years ago," said Gayle in her remarks. "We urge governments, the private sector, and other donors to dramatically increase their contributions to the fund; their generosity can help save millions of lives."
According to statistics recently released by UNAIDS, the global AIDS epidemic continues to grow. Worldwide, approximately 38 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, and in 2004 some 2.9 million people will die of the disease. Moreover, an estimated 1.6 million people will die of tuberculosis in 2004, almost all of them in the developing world, and 1 million people, the vast majority of them children in Africa, will succumb to malaria.
Against this backdrop, the Global Fund faces a major funding gap. While it has secured donor commitments totaling $3.4 billion through the end of the year, enough to meet its needs, pledges for 2005-08 total just $2 billion — far below the $3.6 billion fund officials project it will need in 2005 alone. The Gates Foundation hopes that its contribution will spur other donors to step up and make pledges to the fund as well as encourage Congress to authorize the maximum contribution allowable under U.S. law — one-third of the total contributed to the fund, or approximately $547 million in 2004.
"The fight against the world's most devastating diseases cannot be waged successfully without adequate resources," said Dr. Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund. "We applaud the leadership by the Gates Foundation in making this contribution and signaling its continued support for the Global Fund, especially at this critical moment when increased funding is so important. "