Germany has more than doubled a pledge to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for 2005 to €82 million ($109 million) from this year, the fund said on Friday. German Minister for Cooperation and Development Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul announced the increase from the €38 million committed in 2004. The decision makes Germany the fund's fourth largest donor after the United States, France and Italy, which each pledge over €100
million euros annually. "The German contribution is very timely and most welcome as the board of the Global Fund has just announced a new funding round in 2005 that will help to finance new lifesaving programs in many countries," said Doctor Christoph Benn, director of external relations at the Global Fund in Geneva. Since it was created in January 2002 by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to assist poor nations to slash deaths, the fund has committed about $3 billion in two-year grants to 128 countries, instead of $30 billion projected.