Gates Foundation Announces Five-Year $500M Donation to Global Fund
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Wednesday announced a $500 million donation to the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over the next five years, the Washington Post reports. The donation is the largest the Global Fund has received from a nongovernmental organization (Brown, Washington Post, 8/10). Previously the Gates Foundation has donated $150 million to the Global Fund, which receives most of its funding from governments (AP/Boston Globe, 8/10). "The Global Fund is one of the most important health initiatives in the world today," Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said, adding, "The Global 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" (Heim, Seattle Times, 8/9). The money will be disbursed in $100 million installments through 2010 beginning this year (CQ HealthBeat, 8/10). "This very sizable and greatly appreciated additional commitment will help save millions of lives around the world. It is a very strong vote of confidence in the Global Fund," Global Fund Executive Director Richard Feachem said. According to Feachem, $200 million of the funding will help underwrite the fund's sixth round of grants scheduled to be awarded in November. He added that the fund still needs $500 million to finance that round (Washington Post, 8/10). "[The Global Fund] is a funding model that works, and the need is great. We hope all donors -- public and private, large and small -- will step up their support and make long-term commitments," Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said (Global Fund release, 8/9). The donation means that the U.S., which currently is the largest donor to the Global Fund, "theoretically" can now give more money to the Global Fund, according to the Post. Under a law passed by Congress a few years ago, the U.S. government cannot contribute more than 33% of the Global Fund's total budget. With the Gates foundation contribution, the U.S. share through 2008 would be 27%, according to a fund spokesperson (Washington Post, 8/10). According to Feachem, the Gates Foundation grant is the second five-year grant the Global Fund has received (AFP/Yahoo! News, 8/9).
According to Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, "A fully funded Global Fund is absolutely critical to the AIDS response. Without it, it will be difficult to turn all of the good ideas and strategic plans into reality on the ground" (Global Fund release, 8/9). International NGOs praised the donation, though some HIV/AIDS advocates expressed concern that donor countries are not doing enough (Branswell, CP/Globe and Mail, 8/10). U.N. Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis said the Gates donation is "welcome, but by itself, it won't do the job." He added that although the donation is a "pot of gold," it will "never compensate for the delinquency of governments" (Gorrie, Toronto Star, 8/10). Other HIV/AIDS advocates said the donation might prevent other groups from providing additional funding (Marchione, AP/Houston Chronicle, 8/9). Feachem disagreed, saying, "It's a challenge to others. It's not letting off the hook. ... We hope it will encourage additional private contributions" (Toronto Star, 8/10). Feachem also expressed hope that the United Kingdom by the end of this year would announce a 10-year grant (AFP/Yahoo! News, 8/9).