Why in news?

On 7th April, President Donald Trump threatened to freeze US funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), saying the international group had “missed the call” on the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump’s views

  • Trump said the body had “called it wrong” on COVID-19 and that it was very “Chinacentric” in its approach.
  • He suggested that the WHO had gone along with Beijing’s efforts months ago to under-represent the severity of the outbreak.
  • The American President declared he would cut off US funding for the organisation, then backtracked and said he would strongly consider such a move.

Objectives and Functions of WHO

It is stated in the constitution of the WHO that its objective “is the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health”.

The WHO fulfills this objective through the following functions:

  1. By playing a role as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work.
  2. To maintain and establish collaboration with the United Nations, health administrations or groups and any other organisation as may be deemed appropriate
  3. To assist Governments, upon request, in strengthening health services
  4. To provide appropriate technical assistance and in the event of emergencies, necessary aid upon the request or acceptance of Governments
  5. To provide or assist in providing, upon the request of the United Nations, health services and facilities to special groups, such as the peoples of trust territories

How is the WHO funded?

  • There are four kinds of contributions that make up funding for the WHO.
  • These are assessed contributions, specified voluntary contributions, core voluntary contributions, and PIP contributions.
  • According to the WHO website, 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.
  • Voluntary contributions come from Member States (in addition to their assessed contribution) or from other partners. They can range from flexible to highly earmarked.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In recent years, assessed contributions to the WHO have declined, and now account for less than one-fourth of its funding. These funds are important for the WHO, because they provide a level of predictability and minimise dependence on a narrow donor base.
  • Voluntary contributions make up for most of the remaining funding.

Who funds WHO?

  • 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.
  • The United States is currently the WHO’s biggest contributor, making up 14.67 per cent of total funding by providing $553.1 million.
  • The US is followed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation forming 9.76 per cent or $367.7 million.

Allotment 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).
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