The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, having raised $2.1 billion in government, corporate, and individual pledges, announced that its first grants will reach programs in about 40 countries by the end of this year. "A quarter of the money is in the bank, and it's enough to cover the first round of handouts, which should be made in the weeks ahead," executive director Richard Feachem said Sunday. Feachem said Haiti, Ghana, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka will be among the first countries to receive aid over the next two years.
The U.S. government was the largest donor, with pledges of $500 million, followed by the United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan with $200 million each. Individual donors included United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, who pledged $100,000. Feachem said the fund would work with auditing firms "to improve oversight of donated aid money and make sure that it gets where it's most needed in a rapid way."