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Who funds WHO?

US halts WHO Funding: US President Donald Trump recently announced his decision to halt funding to the global health agency World Health Organization.

US halts WHO Funding:

Recently, the United States of America decided to cut-off funding to the World Health Organization. The US is the the biggest overall donor to the global health agency, and contributes about 15% of the total budget of the WHO. US President Donald Trump has accused WHO of ‘covering up’ the virus spread for his decision. On the other hand global agencies including the UN and EU have condemned the US decision as it would severely hamper the agency’s ability to manage the on-going pandemic.

But before jumping to any conclusions it is important to understand where does WHO get its money from and how is it used to counter global health threats? Let’s find out.

Rational Behind US Decision

US President Donald Trump recently announced his decision to halt funding to the global health agency World Health Organization. While announcing the decision, Trump administration has alleged that the global health agency of being unduly ‘China Centric’ during the Coronavirus pandemic and also accused it of covering up the spread of the virus during the initial days which led to the pandemic. He also added that “WHO” didn’t perform its basic duty of safeguarding the health of the people of the world and therefore must be held accountable. Trump also hit out at China saying that WHO supported ‘China’s disinformation campaign’ on Coronavirus which led to the global outbreak. The decision comes after Trump administration gave wielded threat do ‘cut-off WHO funding’ for nearly a week.  

UN, EU condemn US decision

The decision has received global condemnation starting from WHO’s parent agency the United Nations and even European Union also criticizing the US decision amid the on-going pandemic. Amid rising concern about US decision to halt WHO finding, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement saying “This is “not the time” to reduce resources for WHO operations. He called upon the ‘international community to show unity and solidarity and to work together to stop the virus to avoid shattering consequences’. On similar lines, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also condemned the decision and termed the global on-going health crisis that transcends borders.  

Where does WHO Get money?

Now, coming to the million dollar question, quite literally! Where does WHO get its funding from? The simple answer to this is through contributions and donations. However, upon closer inspection, WHO funding is quite complicated and needs a thorough understanding.

As per its website, there are four primary sources of money or funds for the World Health Organization i.e.

            1.Assessed Contributions: Assessed Contribution is like membership fee, which all member countries have to pay in order to be part of WHO. The assessed contributions for a particular country are decided on the basis of its wealth and population.

            2.Voluntary Contributions:

            a.Donations by International Organizations: All contributions from international organizations such as the parent agency United Nations, European Commission, Rotary International, etc, fall under this category.

            b.Donations by Member Countries: Many wealthy member nations, including the US, made large donations to the WHO to keep it operationally viable. In fact, reports indicate that the US is by far the largest donor and has contributed $656 million in the form of donations in the two-year funding cycle of 2018 to 2019, as per data available on WHO website.

            c.Donations by Private Donors: Apart from this, several private donors and extend a helping hand to the WHO to help its cause of keeping the world a healthy place to live.

Impact of US Decision to halt WHO funding amid pandemic

But, as reported earlier, the United States is the largest donor to the WHO and account for nearly 14.67% of all voluntary contributions given globally. US is followed by ‘Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’ – a foundation run by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his Wife. If we look at the next biggest country / member state contributor to WHO, it is United Kingdom USD 434.8 million in dues and donations followed by Germany. On the other hand, China – which has been the epicentre of the global pandemic, contributes about USD 85 Million in total to WHO.

Trying to assess the immediate impact of US’s decision to cut-off funding to the World Health Organization will be difficult, as many other details are still awaited from US’s side. As of now Trump administration has not specified from which pool will it be reducing its contribution from i.e. either from Assessed Contributions or membership dues which currently stand at USD 236 Million or from Voluntary donations which are about USD 656 Million. But irrespective of its nature, the funding cut to the WHO will surely hamper the global health agency’s ability and efficacy in handling the on-going contribution.

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