Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates committed $700 million to battle diseases that kill millions of people a year, saying experimental technologies like a matchstick-sized implant to prevent HIV could become new weapons in the global effort.

The implant, under development by Merck & Co. and inserted just under the skin of a patient’s arm, is among potential breakthroughs Gates is set to highlight in a speech in France Thursday. Others include a tuberculosis vaccine GlaxoSmithKline Plc is developing.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide the money to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria over the next three years, bringing its total contribution since 2002 to almost $3 billion, according to a statement from the Seattle-based group. The Global Fund is looking to raise at least $14 billion, including $1 billion from the private sector.

The Microsoft Corp. co-founder pointed to significant strides in fighting the three diseases, saying the fund has cut deaths by 40% in areas where it invests. But Gates has also warned that wealthier nations risk losing sight of the need to keep funding those international efforts.

‘Stepping Back’
“More and more, countries seem to be stepping back from the world and saying they’ll cut things like foreign aid,” Gates said in a copy of the speech to be given at a conference in Lyon. “If there’s a narrative about how the globe is turning, it is that it’s turning inward.”

Gates, who heads the world’s biggest private charity with his wife, Melinda, also cited a triple-drug TB treatment recently approved in the U.S. that shows significant promise against even the most resistant forms of the disease, along with a new generation of bed nets for malaria. Innovations in treating and preventing HIV, such as the implant that’s designed to give a year’s protection against the virus, are what Gates said he’s most excited about.

While Gates’s focus was on progress, he said a child still dies every two minutes from malaria, almost 1,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV every day, and nearly 40% of people who become ill with TB each year go unreported and untreated.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.