Rajat Kumar Gupta, chairman of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, has announced plans to raise over $12 billion by 2012 to help some of the world’s poorest counties.

Speaking in Lusaka Zambia, Mr Gupta, who is senior partner worldwide of McKinsey & Co, became the Global Fund’s fourth Chair last April and he noted that the fund has already secured $100 million in the past year and a half.

According to Mr Gupta, "the money we are mobilising will help us mitigate the effects of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria especially in the worst affected countries." More than three-quarters of all AIDS-related deaths in 2007 occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, where almost 70% of the world’s HIV infected people live.

In Zambia, where Mr Gupta was speaking, around one million of the country’s 12 million population are HIV positive, some 300,000 of whom are in need of antiretroviral therapy. Zambia’s President, Levy Mwanawasa, is inevitably concerned by the high incidence of HIV in his country, but emphasised that “the AIDS situation in Zambia is further compounded by co-epidemics of tuberculosis and malaria." The growing relationship of TB with HIV is making the treatment of both diseases more difficult.

Since its creation in 2002, the Swiss-based Global Fund has become the dominant financier of programmes to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, with approved funding of $10.1 billion for more than 550 programmes in 136 countries. Programmes supported by the organisation claim to have saved two million lives through providing AIDS drugs for 1.4 million people, anti-tuberculosis treatment for 3.3 million people and distributed some 46 million insecticide-treated bed nets for the prevention of malaria. By Steve Ainsworth