International donors meet target of $14 billion to fight AIDS, TB and malaria at conference in France

Governments, businesses and philanthropists gathered in France pledged just over $14 billion on Thursday to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, exceeding the targeted amount, its chief executive Peter Sands announced.

Beside French President Emmanuel Macron, who hosted the replenishment conference and had urged governments to open their wallets wide, Sands said the target was even slightly exceeded, reaching $14.02 billion (€12.07bn). The fund says the money will help save 16 million lives and avert 234 million infections by 2023.

A dozen heads of state and government, mostly from African countries, were attending the two-day conference.

Macron, who was hosting the conference in the city of Lyon, wanted the event to raise more than the $12.2 billion (€11.07bn) brought in at the last conference in 2016.

The French leader urged leaders to accelerate the donations in his opening speech. “If we meet our commitments in the next three years, 16 million lives can be saved,” Macron said. “We must reach $14 million in the next three hours.”

He said this morning that France had raised its pledge by 15 percent to €1.5 billion and later pledged an additional €60 million.

"The funds that are being asked of us are not... charity. It is a decision to invest against injustice," said the French president, highlighting the disproportionate rate of infection and deaths from AIDS, TB and malaria in poor countries, and among women and girls.

"What we want to do is to make AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria disappear from the face of the Earth," he added to applause.

The US Congress has approved a commitment to give a total of $4.68 billion (€4.24bn) over three years. The US and France are the biggest donors.

The donations from governments, philanthropic donors and the private sector will be used to finance health programmes in more than 100 countries. Major recipients of the fund are Nigeria, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

The Global Fund said the money would help avert 234 million infections and try to get back on track to end HIV, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics by 2030.

The organisation said the programmes it has supported since its creation in 2002 have saved 32 million lives.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)