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How is WHO funded?

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

How is WHO funded?

What to study?

For Prelims: WHO- objectives, functions, funding and governance.

For Mains: Issues with funding and need for reforms.

 Context: US President Donald Trump is planning to put a hold on America’s funding to the World Health Organization, accusing it of becoming China-centric during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

  • How much will Trump’s threat of stopping funds impact WHO?
    The US is the largest contributor to the WHO. The US share is part of the assessed contributions, which is more like a membership fee, calculated on the basis of a country’s wealth and population, payable on January 1 each year.
  • The share of assessed contributions in WHO’s annual budget has declined over the years, to the extent that they now constitute just 24%. The rest is through voluntary contributions not just from member nations but also from private organisations.
  • Besides, as of January 31, the US still hasn’t paid the dues for 2019 or for 2020, amounting to almost $200 million. Therefore, the impact would not be much on WHO.


If Trump does decide to block the US’ contribution, the WHO can suspend the country’s voting rights and deny access to its services, as per Article 7 of its Constitution.

About WHO:

WHO came into existence on 7 April, 1948 – a date which is now celebrated every year as World Health Day. The organisation has more than 7,000 people working in 150 country offices, six regional offices and at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

How WHO is governed?

  1. The World Health Assembly (delegations from all members countries) determines the policies of the organisation.
  2. The executive board is composed of members technically qualified in health, and gives effect to the decisions and policies of the health assembly.
  3. Its core function is to direct and coordinate international health work through collaboration.

How is the WHO funded?

There are four kinds of contributions that make up funding for the WHO.These are:

  1. Assessed contributions are the dues countries pay in order to be a member of the Organization. The amount each Member State must pay is calculated relative to the country’s wealth and population.
  2. Voluntary contributions come from Member States (in addition to their assessed contribution) or from other partners. They can range from flexible to highly earmarked.
  3. Core voluntary contributions allow less well-funded activities to benefit from a better flow of resources and ease implementation bottlenecks that arise when immediate financing is lacking.
  4. Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Contributions were started in 2011 to improve and strengthen the sharing of influenza viruses with human pandemic potential, and to increase the access of developing countries to vaccines and other pandemic related supplies.

WHO’s current funding pattern:

As of fourth quarter of 2019, total contributions were around $5.62 billion, with assessed contributions accounting for $956 million, specified voluntary contributions $4.38 billion, core voluntary contributions $160 million, and PIP contributions $178 million.

Largest contributions:

  1. The United States is currently the WHO’s biggest contributor, making up 14.67 per cent of total funding by providing $553.1 million.
  2. The US is followed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation forming 9.76 per cent or $367.7 million.
  3. The third biggest contributor is the GAVI Vaccine Alliance at 8.39 per cent, with the UK (7.79 per cent) and Germany (5.68 per cent) coming fourth and fifth respectively.
  4. The four next biggest donors are international bodies: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (5.09 per cent), World Bank (3.42 per cent), Rotary International (3.3 per cent), and the European Commission (3.3 per cent). India makes up 0.48 per cent of total contributions, and China 0.21 per cent.

Allocation of funds:

  • Out of the total funds, $1.2 billion is allotted for the Africa region, $1.02 billion for Eastern Mediterranean region, $963.9 million for the WHO headquarters, followed by South East Asia ($198.7 million), Europe ($200.4 million), Western Pacific ($152.1 million), and Americas (39.2 million) regions respectively. India is part of the South East Asia region.
  • The biggest programme area where the money is allocated is polio eradication (26.51 per cent), followed by increasing access to essential health and nutrition services (12.04 per cent), and preventable diseases vaccines (8.89 per cent).

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. WHO governance.
  2. Types of contributions in WHO.
  3. Largest contributors.
  4. Significance of World Health Day.

Mains Link:

Discuss the role of WHO in promoting public health and environmental health across the globe.

Sources: Indian Express.