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Gates Says Global Economy, Euro Crisis Threaten Aid Programs

The global economic downturn and the euro-zone crisis may stand in the way of efforts to reduce poverty and disease around the world, Microsoft Corp. chairman and founder Bill Gates said today.

“It’s very easy to lose sight of the conditions of the very poorest,” Gates said in a talk at the London School of Economics sponsored by the Global Poverty Project charity. “There are many things going on in terms of the euro-zone crisis, budget cutbacks, that would make it easy to turn inward and actually reduce the financing that has led to so much progress.”

About 1.4 billion people live in conditions of “extreme” poverty, according to the Global Poverty Project. Gates said “incredible progress” had been made toward reducing poverty and disease. He gave the examples of India not reporting a case of polio for a year and advances in the development of new vaccines for infectious diseases.

Donors to aid programs may have been discouraged from further giving after reports of grants being misused in some countries, the software company billionaire said. The GAVI Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, both funded by Gates’ family charity, have said that some grant recipients have misappropriated money.

“If people think that aid is spent corruptly and doesn’t have an impact, they won’t stand behind it,” Gates said.

The Global Fund appointed Gabriel Jaramillo as general manager, a new position that will help “ensure the institution manages donor resources as efficiently and safely as possible,” the Geneva-based fund said yesterday.

Michel Kazatchkine, the executive director for five years, said he would step down in March after overseeing a transition to Jaramillo, according to the agency.

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