Context: Alleging the World Health Organisation(WHO) of missing the call on the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump threatened to freeze US funding to the international group recently.

What Trump said?

  • WHO’s China Centric approach: Suggesting that the WHO had gone along with Beijing’s efforts to under-represent the severity of the outbreak.
  • First declaring  to cut off US funding for the organisation, Trump backtracked and said he would strongly consider such a move.

How is the WHO funded?

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

  1. assessed contributions, 
  2. specified voluntary contributions, 
  3. core voluntary contributions, and 
  4. PIP contributions.

More about these 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: 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.

Assessing these contributions:

  • 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.
  • For instance, as of fourth quarter of 2019, total contributions were around USD 5.62 billion, with assessed contributions accounting for USD 956 million, specified voluntary contributions USD 4.38 billion, core voluntary contributions USD 160 million, and PIP contributions USD 178 million.

Top contributors:

  • The United States is currently the WHO’s biggest contributor, making up 14.67 percent of total funding.
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is second forming 9.76 percent.
  • The GAVI Vaccine Alliance is the third biggest contributor at 8.39 per cent, with the UK (7.79 per cent) and Germany (5.68 per cent) coming fourth and fifth respectively.

Allocation of funds:

  • Regions: Out of the total funds, USD 1.2 billion is allotted for the Africa region, USD 1.02 billion for Eastern Mediterranean region, USD 963.9 million for the WHO headquarters etc.
  • Programs: 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).


World Health Organization (WHO)

Founded in 1948, World Health Organization (WHO) is the United Nations specialized agency for Health.

  1. Type: It is an intergovernmental organization and works in collaboration with its member states, represented usually through the Ministry of Health.
  2. Objectives: Provides leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.
  3. Members: There are 194 Member States, 150 country offices, six regional offices. 
    • Members of the United Nations may become Members of the Organization.
    • Territories or groups of territories which are not responsible for the conduct of their international relations may be admitted as Associate Members by the Health Assembly.
  4. Headquarter: Geneva, Switzerland.
  5. April 7 is celebrated every year as World Health Day, the day WHO began functioning in1948.
  6. Governance: World Health Assembly
    • The Assembly is composed of delegates representing Members.
    • The Health Assembly meets in regular annual sessions and sometimes in special sessions as well.
    • The Health Assembly determines the policies of the Organization.
    • It supervises the financial policies of the Organization and reviews and approves the budget.
    • It reports to the Economic and Social Council in accordance with any agreement between the Organization and the United Nations.
    • The Secretariat: Comprises of the Director-General and such technical and administrative staff as the Organization may require.
      • The Director-General is appointed by the Health Assembly on the nomination of the Board on such terms as the Health Assembly may determine.