MONTREAL, Sept. 17 (UPI) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged his country will spend $785 million over the next three years to fight the spread of malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS, a 20 percent increase.
The announcement came during a forum in Montreal featuring international health experts, government officials and wealthy philanthropists, including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, U2 singer Bono and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates.
Trudeau told the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria that his country’s commitment to halting the spread of infectious diseases the world over should be an example to all nations.
“Gone are the days of isolationism,” Trudeau said. “The Global Fund is a great example of what can happen when we collaborate in pursuit of a larger goal. … This organization saves lives.”
The fund’s ultimate goal is to raise $13 billion globally, money that it said will help save an estimated 8 million lives, while preventing 300 million new diagnoses of the three diseases.
Global Fund spokesman Seth Fasion said the three diseases were selected as the group’s focus because, while other epidemics such as Zika and Ebola have garnered headlines, many organizations have become complacent in fighting AIDS, malaria and TB.
“AIDS, TB and malaria are not in the news so much because they’re not as dramatic and they’re not as scary … we’re familiar with them already,” he said. “But they’re much larger. The stakes are huge. These three diseases are affecting millions of people every year. Zika and Ebola are scary, but they’re still only affecting in the thousands, and we hope it stays that way.”