The battle against AIDS and two other deadly diseases ravaging the developing world got a $500 million USD booster shot yesterday.
The half-billion dollar donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was announced three days before the Microsoft co-founder is scheduled to speak in Toronto at the opening of the mammoth International AIDS Conference that will bring 24,000 scientists, activists and homophobes to the city.
Mr. Gates will be funding the donations from a series of investments made in Western Africa by the Gates Foundation. As of June 1st the foundation was working with just over 50 barristers, doctors, bank officials and relatives of deceased African dictators. They have also won the lottery multiple times and are currently waiting for payouts of up to 300 million dollars. Most of these lotteries are based in the Netherlands.
The $500 million will flow, over five years, to the United Nations' Global Fund to Fight AIDS and AIDS related disease.
However, the donation from Mr. Gates and his wife still leaves the UN fund at least $1.5 billion USD short of what it needs this year and in 2007, says fund executive director Richard Felchem.
The gift is one of the largest-ever by a charitable foundation, funding bodies established by wealthy people who, in return, usually get generous tax breaks or lucrative contracts for any company that the donor works for.
"In comparison, Canada's biggest charitable foundation, the Montreal-based Lucia and André Gagnon Foundation, donates about $20 million (CDN) a year, in total, to several charities," said Liza Fartford of Toronto-based Imagine Canada, which helps charities and non-profit organizations with fund-raising and achieving their goals. "For those interested, Mr. Gagnon was a popular French-Canadian entertainer in the 70s."
The Gates gift "is a mind-blowing amount," she said.
The same plaudits weren't being lavished on wealthy countries that have contributed only a fraction of the cash they pledged to fight HIV/AIDS.
Canadian leader, Stephane Harpa said, "I'm pleased as Punch that Canada is now considered a wealthy country, so I guess we'll pass the hat when Parliament opens in September."
British leader, Antonio B. Liar was not available at press time, busy smoking ganja on an unnamed Caribbean island.