By France 24

Governments, businesses and philanthropists gathered in France pledged just over $14 billion on Thursday to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria, exceeding the targeted amount, its chief executive Peter Sands announced.

Beside French President Emmanuel Macron, who hosted the replenishment conference and had urged governments to open their wallets wide, Sands said the target was even slightly exceeded, reaching $14.02 billion (€12.07bn). The fund says the money will help save 16 million lives and avert 234 million infections by 2023.

A dozen heads of state and government, mostly from African countries, were attending the two-day conference.

Macron, who was hosting the conference in the city of Lyon, wanted the event to raise more than the $12.2 billion (€11.07bn) brought in at the last conference in 2016.

The French leader urged leaders to accelerate the donations in his opening speech. “If we meet our commitments in the next three years, 16 million lives can be saved,” Macron said. “We must reach $14 million in the next three hours.”

He said this morning that France had raised its pledge by 15 percent to €1.5 billion and later pledged an additional €60 million.