In a show of faith in the faltering Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Bill Gates donated $750 million to the fund on Thursday.
The donation was made as a promissory note intended to tide the fund over regular cash shortages.
Mr. Gates, who made the announcement at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said tough economic times were “no excuse for cutting aid to the world’s poorest,” and called the fund one of the “most effective” entities to which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donates.
The Global Fund, which pays for AIDS drugs for more than 3 million poor people, has distributed more than 200 million mosquito nets and claims to have prevented more than 4 million tuberculosis deaths, has been struggling to raise money.
Some donors have backed away, either because of their own budget problems or because of thefts of fund monies in different countries. While not large, the thefts have made persistent headlines and been seized on by opponents of foreign aid.
Mr. Gates has argued that a certain level of theft is inevitable in foreign aid and that the overall good outweighs that.
“It’s particularly important that we got a big whopping vote of confidence from a guy who is thought to have business sense,” said Jon Liden, a spokesman for the fund.
During its last fund-raising drive, the fund fell more than $1 billion short of the minimum it said it needed to continue existing grants. It recently said it could not make new ones. Also, its executive director, Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, resigned on Tuesday after the board split his job in half and appointed a manager to run day-to-day operations.
The Gates grant is not intended to expand the fund’s operations but to insulate it from cash crunches.
Before the fund can make a new grant, Mr. Liden explained, its own rules require it to have enough money in the bank to cover at least two years of expenses. Also, he said, many donor countries pay up on their pledges only at the end of their budget cycles.