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Gates-Backed Fund Halts New Grants as Crisis Hurts Giving

The world’s biggest disease-fighting fund canceled its next round of grants as the global financial crisis crimps donations and threatens its ability to curb the spread of the world’s deadliest infections.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has spent or committed to spending $22 billion since 2002 on preventing and treating disease, will only have enough money to pay for essential services for existing programs through the end of 2013, the Geneva-based fund said in a statement today. It will not make new grants until 2014, when it expects to have raised additional money for the 2014-2016 funding cycle, Andrew Hurst, a spokesman, said in a telephone interview.

The fund faces “accelerating deterioration” in its finances for the next three years because of economic distress in donor nations, combined with corruption in some of the poor countries it helps, a review of the group found in September. The fund is backed by governments, charities including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and donors including Chevron Corp.

“It is deeply worrisome that inadvertently, the millions of people fighting with deadly diseases are in danger of paying the price for the global financial crisis,” Michel Kazatchkine, the fund’s executive director, said in the statement, which came after a two-day meeting of the organization’s board in Accra, Ghana.

The Global Fund has spent more than $13 billion since it was established in 2002 to fight the biggest infectious killers, and has committed to spending about $9 billion more.

The fund has $4 billion to ensure payments on all existing grants, according to today’s statement. Existing grant recipients can apply for as much as two years of funding to continue essential programs under grants that expire in the coming two years, Hurst said.

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