The clock is ticking on securing WHO’s finances

Financing WHO: How much must countries pay & what are essential functions

An update from the Sustainable Financing Working Group Meeting

Discussions among countries on ways to fund WHO in a predictable manner are reaching an important phase with an emerging view that member states must pay more to protect the role of WHO in global health. So while many countries may, in principle be ready to cough up more, it is far from clear by how much and by when would they agree to do so. Countries also appear undecided on the ways to prioritize essential functions of WHO, sources familiar with the discussions at the intergovernmental Sustainable Financing Working Group told us.

The meeting last week on 23-25 June, discussed the recommendations made by the Independent Panel On Pandemic Preparedness And Response, and the other committees.

The working group also put forward its deliberations on the costing of certain essential functions of the WHO, including health emergency preparedness and response; delivering on normative functions; strengthening essential public health functions in countries; advancing research and innovation for global health; functions to improve transparency and accountability to mitigate severe corporate risks.

In order to get a more granular understanding on where countries stand on these matters, the working group has elicited responses from regional committees asking member states a series of questions on whether they would agree that at least half of WHO’s core functions should be financed through assessed contributions, whether the entirety of the  base budget should be funded in a flexible manner. The working group also sought to know whether an increase in assessed contributions should be proposed at the World Health Assembly in 2022.

Countries were also asked about a potential replenishment model to fund a third of WHO’s base budget, with the rest funded by an increase in assessed contributions, as suggested by the IPPPR. 

The Independent Expert Oversight Advisory Committee, for example, suggested “a substantial increase of ACs share in overall WHO financing”. It suggested introducing annual increase of ACs in line with previous years world GDP growth and defining major expenditure of WHO that must be  financed sustainably. It also recommended considering a change of the calculation formula for Assessed contributions in order to ensure “stable contribution in real terms”

The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB Report “A world in disorder”) has called for a sustained investment in prevention and preparedness, commensurate with the scale of a pandemic threat.

Image credit: Photo by Tom Swinnen from Pexels

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