WHO Seeks Expanded Function In Global Health But Says Its Under Funded

According to health policy experts, the World Health Organization will try to force for an enlarged role in addressing the next global health emergency after COVID-19 at its board meeting this week, but it is still looking for answers regarding how to fund those efforts.

The Geneva meeting establishes the United Nations agency’s program for this year, as well as its future budget, with the WHO facing two major challenges: a world that expects more from its leading health body, but has yet to demonstrate a willingness to fund it to address those challenges.

Countries will provide feedback on WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ global strategy to strengthen readiness for the next pandemic, which includes a binding treaty currently being negotiated, at the Executive Board’s annual meeting from January 30-February 7.

“I think the focus is very much on the programme budget, then sustainable financing,” Timothy Armstrong, WHO director for governing bodies, told journalists when asked about the agenda.

On his list was also “the World Health Organization’s position, recognizing the need for a strengthened central role for WHO” in the global health emergency system.

The WHO is pursuing a record $6.86 billion for the 2024-2025 budget, saying that endorsing this total amount would be “a historic move towards a more empowered and independent WHO”.

However, approval will necessitate member states following through on promises made last year to raise mandatory fees, which is uncertain given that the deal was always subject to conditions.

“What we are currently seeing is that some member states are now trying to pre-condition lots of things,” said a source close to the talks, saying it “remains to be seen” if all countries will commit to raising fees. Reuters could not immediately establish which countries might withhold support.

According to a WHO document, the current base budget, which does not include the funding changes, has a nearly $1 billion financing gap – though that gap is not unusual at this point, according to two sources. However, one commentator added that it was “absurd” that the WHO was still scrambling for funds after COVID-19.

“It’s a huge knot,” said Nicoletta Dentico, the co-chair of the civil society platform the Geneval Global Health Hub. “The weakness of WHO is under our eyes.”

According to a document, the agency is also considering starting large replenishment rounds every few years to replenish its coffers.

The WHO, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary since its inception in 1948, will also use the meeting to advocate for a greater role in pandemic preparedness, according to documents.

Tedros will propose the formation of a Global Health Emergency Council under the auspices of WHO. External experts, however, have stated that such a council requires higher-level political leadership.

“Given that pandemic threats involve and impact almost every sector, it must be an outcome of a UN General Assembly resolution, be appointed by and accountable to it,” Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand and head of the independent panel set up to review the handling of COVID, said.

(Adapted from TBSNews.com)

Categories: Economy & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Geopolitics, Regulations & Legal, Strategy, Sustainability

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