World Health Assembly adopts landmark decision to sustainably fund WHO – Reuters

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Today, at the 75th World Health Assembly, Member States agreed to adopt a historic decision to improve the funding model of the World Health Organization.

The decision adopted, in full, the recommendations of a working group on sustainable financing made up of WHO member states, which was established in January 2021 and chaired by Germany’s Björn Kümmel.

In one of the main recommendations of the task force’s report to the Health Assembly, Member States aim for a gradual increase in their assessed contributions (dues) to represent 50% of WHO’s core budget by the 2030-2031 budget cycle, at the latest. During the last budget biennium, 2020-2021, assessed contributions represented only 16% of the approved program budget.

The report includes other recommendations, such as exploring the feasibility of a replenishment mechanism to broaden the funding base. It also calls on the WHO Secretariat to work with a task force of Member States to strengthen WHO governance, which will make recommendations on transparency, efficiency, accountability and compliance. The work of the working group will help ensure that increases in Member States’ contributions are accompanied by further reforms in the way the Organization operates.

WHO’s current funding model has been identified by many experts as posing a risk to the integrity and independence of its work. WHO’s overreliance on voluntary contributions, much of which is earmarked for specific areas of work, results in a permanent mismatch between the Organization’s priorities and the ability to fund them. Today’s recommendations are designed to substantially address these shortcomings.

The gradual increase in assessed contributions is expected to start with the 2024-2025 WHO budget, with a proposed 20% increase over assessed contributions in the approved core budget for 2022-23. The aim is to reach 50% of the WHO budget by 2028-2029 if possible, and by 2030-31 at the latest, compared to 16% currently in 2020-21. This would mean that by 2028-2029, WHO would see an increase of around US$ 600 million per year in the portion of its income from the most sustainable and predictable sources.

More predictable and sustainable funding for WHO makes economic sense for contributors to the Organization, with its new investment case’A healthy return*’* showing that every US$1 invested in WHO generates a return on investment of at least US$35. Sustainable funding will better equip WHO to be more effective for all its Member States and their populations, for example through longer-term programming in countries and by attracting and retaining expertise.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “This decision tackles head-on the decades-long challenge WHO faces with predictable, flexible and sustainable funding. To achieve the goal they have agreed to today, our Member States will empower WHO to meet their expectations and truly fulfill our mandate as the world’s leading health authority. “Coming on the day of my re-election, this decision gives all of us at WHO renewed confidence in the future,” he added.

Björn Kümmel, deputy head of the global health division at the German Federal Ministry of Health and chair of the WHO working group on sustainable financing, said. “This decision concerns nothing less than the future role of the WHO in global health. Even beyond that, it is about what we envision for the global health architecture: a less fragmented, better coordinated, more efficient and truly inclusive global health governance with a fundamentally strengthened WHO at its center as the empowered directing and coordinating authority. »

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