Bill and Melinda Gates give $500 000 000 for AIDS

The announcement comes on the eve of the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto where around 24 000 scientists, researchers, health workers, advocates, and policymakers from across the world will start meeting on Sunday in an attempt to find solutions to an epidemic which kills 8 500 people every day.

‘€œThis is equivalent to 17 jumbo jets crashing every day,’€ Dr Ernest Darkoh, chairman of BroadReach Healthcare, reminded journalists at a workshop in the Canadian city.

‘€œToday 14 000 people, including 1900 children will become newly infected,’€ Darkoh added. Darkoh is a former director of Botswana’€™s National AIDS Treatment Programme.

Gates described the Global Fund as one of the most important health initiatives in the world today.

‘€œThe Fund has an excellent track record, and we need to do everything we can to support its continued success, which will save millions of lives,’€ he added.

‘€œWe are extremely grateful to the Gates Foundation for this show of confidence in the Global Fund,” said Richard Feachem, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “The Global Fund has proven itself to be an effective way to reach millions of people with urgently needed medicines and other services. This new commitment by the Gates Foundation will enable us to reach millions more.’€

Since its launch four years ago, the Global Fund has become a major funder of global efforts to combat AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. With grants from the Global Fund, 132 countries have begun to produce substantial results, including 544,000 people provided with HIV/AIDS treatment, more than 1.4 million people treated for TB, and more than 11 million bed nets distributed to protect children from malaria.

The Gates Foundation grant is structured so that $100 million will be provided each year from 2006 through 2010. The contributions for 2006 and 2007 will be available to support the Global Fund’s sixth round of financing, which is slated to be approved by the Fund’s board in November.

‘€œEven with this support, it is likely that the Fund will need an additional $500 million to reach our goal of $1.1 billion to fully fund all of the grants that we expect to approve for our sixth round of funding,’€ said Feachem.

The latest grant brings the Gates Foundation’s total support for the Global Fund to $650 million.

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