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WHO Foundation To Broaden Funding Base For Global Health Investment

UNICEF/Andrew Esiebo | UNICEF health worker uses a pen to mark the thumb of Ajeda Mallam, 6 months, who has just been vaccinated against polio at a camp for internally displaced persons outside Maiduguri northeast Nigeria. Photo: UNICEF/Andrew Esiebo

A new foundation launched on Wednesday will generate funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners by tapping non-traditional sources, including the public

The WHO Foundation, which is independent, will be an integral part of the UN agency’s resource mobilization strategy to broaden its donor base.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the idea came from a staff member in response to a call made nearly three years ago for suggestions to transform the organization.

“It is well documented that one of the greatest threats to WHO’s success is the fact that less than 20 per cent of our budget comes in the form of flexible assessed contributions from Member States, while more than 80 per cent is voluntary contributions, from Member States and other donors, which are usually tightly earmarked for specific programmes,” he explained.

“In effect, that means WHO has little discretion over the way it spends its funds, almost 80 per cent of its funds.”

The WHO Foundation, which is legally separate from the UN health agency, will facilitate contributions from the public, individual major donors and corporate partners.

It will make grants that support WHO’s efforts to address pressing global health challenges, which include extending universal health coverage to one billion people.

Mr. Tedros added that the establishment of the WHO Foundation “has nothing to do with the recent funding issues”. Last month, the United States announced it was halting contributions to WHO pending a review of its response to the initial COVID-19 outbreak.

“This is something that started with the transformation that can help the organization, or WHO, to improve the quality of funding, to increase the amount of funding, to serve the people we serve in a better way,” he said.

Building a better world after COVID-19

A WHO manifesto published this week lays out a blueprint for a greener future following the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the crisis has upended lives, and at a devastating human cost, it has also provided a glimpse into what the world could be like if countries take greater action to curb climate change and air pollution, according to Mr. Tedros.

“As some countries start to re-open their societies and economies, the question we must answer is whether we will just return to the way things were, or whether we will learn the lessons the pandemic is teaching us about our relationship with our planet,” he said.

“Building back better means building back greener.”

The manifesto offers six prescriptions, starting with protecting nature as the source of all that human life depends on, namely air, food and water.

It also calls for ensuring access to water and sanitation, as well as investment in clean energy and promotion of healthy, sustainable food systems.

WHO also envisions that health will be integrated into all aspects of urban planning, from transport systems to housing, and that authorities will stop subsidizing the fossil fuels behind pollution and climate change.

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