Bill Gates rode to the rescue of a beleaguered health fund Thursday by pledging $750 million to fight three of world’s killer diseases.
The Microsoft founder says the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s donation to the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria comes on top of $650 million it contributed to the fund over the past decade.
Gates said his pledge at the World Economic Forum — a magnet for the world’s business elite — is meant to encourage other potential donors. “These are tough economic times, but that is no excuse for cutting aid to the world’s poorest,” he said at the forum.
A donor backlash over Associated Press reports about poor financial monitoring and tens of millions of dollars of losses at the $23 billion fund prompted the organization last year to cancel more than $1 billion in new spending. The fund’s executive director, Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, this week announced his resignation.
“I think we can’t be more transparent than we have been. We’re by far the most transparent organization in development,” Kazatchkine told AP. “Fighting corruption, yes, of course, and I have repeatedly said zero tolerance for corruption. Yet we also have to recognize that this business is not without risk. And risk, or the sense of risk, can also paralyze action.”