Lyon (AP) - With a call for more funding, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has begun its donor conference in France.

Françoise Vanni, the Fund's External Relations Director, said Wednesday in Lyon that the fight against disease needs to be stepped up to save some 16 million lives over the next three years. Much has already been achieved but the diseases are resilient.

The total of donors of 14 billion US dollars (about 12.7 billion euros) promised by French President Emmanuel Macron for the next three years is not yet reached, said Vanni. "We do not know what the result will be." Macron, host of the meeting, was scheduled to speak on Thursday. France is leading the round of major industrialized countries (G7) this year and has been looking for donors for months.

The two-day conference will attract around 700 people, including some ten heads of state and government, especially from Africa. Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Kaboré said that there are many obstacles in the fight against disease. He drew attention to the tense security situation in his country. In the Sahel region south of the Sahara, several armed radical Islamic groups are active.

"The efforts of all must be strengthened," demanded the French Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn. Everything must be done to eradicate the three diseases by 2030, as previously announced. There are still around 2.8 million deaths per year. So far, the Global Fund has ensured that 32 million lives are saved.

Around 200 non-governmental organizations had stated before the conference in the newspaper Le Monde that the targeted $ 14 billion was the "strict minimum".

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was set up in 2002 at the initiative of the G8 group of major industrialized countries and then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The fund brings together state and private donors - including US billionaire Bill Gates. He announced in the evening to representatives of international news agencies that the contribution of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would amount to $ 700 million. This was an increase of 16 percent over the previous donors' conference three years ago. With a view to the proposed total of $ 14 billion, he said: "This is a very ambitious number." According to the fund, the largest donors are the USA, with a share of about one third.

In 2016, a donor conference in Montreal raised nearly $ 13 billion. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) had announced that Germany would contribute EUR 1 billion to the G7 summit in Biarritz at the end of August for the next three years.