(Photo: Reuters/Christian Hartmann)
Bill Gates, perhaps the world's best known entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist, announced Thursday during the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland that the charity foundation he steers with his wife, Melinda, will donate $750 million into the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been battling diseases threatening thousands of people across the globe annually, but the organization is also committed to fighting poverty - including in the United States - and providing the underprivileged with resources to live healthy lives and be able to educate their children.
"By supporting the Global Fund, we can help to change the fortunes of the poorest countries in the world," Gates said in a statement, as quoted by CNN. "I can't think of more important work."
In 2009, about 3.3 billion people, half of the world's population, were at risk of contracting malaria, according to the World Health Organization. That same year, there were almost 10 million children who were orphaned as a result of parental deaths caused by tuberculosis, according to the organization's 2011 report. The great AIDS pandemic has been diminishing thanks to the international efforts starting roughly in 2010, according to the most recent UNAids report.
Based in Seattle, Wash., the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. The primary aims of the foundation are, globally, to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, and in the U.S., to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology. The foundation has also announced recently a plan to tackle the problem of homelessness in the entire state of Washington.
The organization has committed $25.36 billion since its establishment in 1994. Since then, it has inserted $15.27 billion into health care projects alone, according to the foundtion's website. Global efforts over previous decades have contributed to dramatic declines in malaria around the world, according to the foundation's data.
A certain amount of controversy surrounds Gates' announcement of the donation to the Global Fund, as the organization's executive director, Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, announced Tuesday he would resign in March after leading the organization for five years. Kazatchkine's resignation comes on the heels of allegations that the fund misused tens of millions of dollars and was allegedly involved in corruption, according to media reports.
The investment comes on top of $650 million the Gates Foundation has already contributed since the Global Fund was launched 10 years ago, according to CNN.