Germany Commits $800 Million to Global Disease-Fighting Fund

Germany will give 600 million euros ($800 million) to the world’s biggest disease-fighting fund, two years after suspending payments amid concern some grants to poor countries were being stolen or misused.

Germany will give 200 million euros a year from 2014 to 2016 to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Dirk Niebel, the nation’s minister for economic cooperation and development, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, today. The pledge extends a commitment of 200 million euros a year Germany made for 2012 and 2013.

The donation is a boost for Executive Director Mark Dybul, who took over at the Geneva-based fund this week and is on a money-raising mission as he seeks to capitalize on scientific advances that he said hold the potential to end epidemics of the world’s three biggest infectious killers. Failing to invest may jeopardize gains against the diseases, he said.

“We are a wealthy world still,” Dybul said in a telephone interview from Davos. “We can afford to do this, and we cannot afford not to do this.”

The Global Fund has spent $19 billion since 2002 fighting the three diseases. It has received or has been promised $29 billion since 2002 by countries, charities such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and companies including Chevron Corp.

Human Impact

“The Global Fund specializes in these disease,” Bill Gates, the founder and chairman of Microsoft Corp., told reporters in Davos today. “If we don’t deal with them, not only do the numbers get larger, but the impact on the human condition, the impact on the economies involved, is really quite tragic.”

Michel Kazatchkine, Dybul’s predecessor, quit a year ago today after a review in 2011 that found the organization lacked sufficient safeguards to prevent abuse of grants by recipients.

Germany suspended its payments to the fund in 2011, and resumed them last year after the organization announced new measures to improve financial oversight. The country has pledged or given $1.79 billion since 2002, not including today’s announcement, making it the fourth-largest donor behind the U.S., France and the U.K., according to data on the fund’s website.

“The fund succeeded in overcoming a serious crisis,” Niebel said. “It has completely reformed itself.”