US Could Agree To Slight Funding Increase At WHO Despite Trump Threats 26/01/2017 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 5 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)President Donald Trump’s promise to cut US funding to United Nations agencies has sent shock waves around the UN, but in a budget discussion at the World Health Organization Executive Board meeting today, the US delegation did not reject outright a call by WHO to increase government contributions to the organisation. Meanwhile, the WHO budget shows a deficit and many WHO members asked the WHO how it plans to remedy the situation and find solutions to reach financial sustainability. WHO Director General Margaret Chan The WHO Executive Board (EB), which is taking place from 23 January to 1 February, considered the organisation budget today, both the assessment of the current budget (2016-2017) and the budget for the next biennium (2018-2019), with high concerns about its financial sustainability. The discussions on the WHO budget for this EB were concluded today, and the secretariat is expected to produce a new draft 2018-2019 budget before the next World Health Assembly in May. According to the Report of the EB Programme, Budget and Administration Committee (PBAC) [pdf], at the end of 2016, “the budget segment for base programmes was 88% financed, with a financing gap of US$ 404 million.” “The challenge remained the mismatch between funding and categories and programme areas, due in particular to the earmarking of voluntary contributions, and the substantial decrease in the overall level of flexible funding,” it said. WHO Director General Margaret Chan had proposed a proposed 10 percent increase in assessed contributions, which was supported by some countries today, such as the African region, Thailand, and the Philippines, disapproved by others, such as the US, while some, such as Brazil and Russia, said they were ready to consider an increase but needed further consultations, and information, such as the impact of such an increase on the budget. US Might Support an Increase in Payments to WHO While US President Trump is preparing executive orders to reduce the US role in the United Nations and other international organisations, as reported by news outlets such as the New York Times, at the EB this week the US delegates did not give any indication that the US intends to withdraw its financial support to the WHO. The US said it could not support the 10 percent proposed increase but could envisage a smaller increase. The US representative said that in addition to their assessed contribution, the US provided the WHO with over US$270 million in voluntary contributions in 2016. “This has been testament to our trust in WHO as the leading institution to advance the global health agenda,” he said. The US pledged US$35 million at the financing dialogue in October in relation to the health emergencies programme, he added, calling other contributors to join the effort. Funding priorities for countries and funding institutions necessarily vary from budget cycles, he added, but said, “We are not sure that the United States will be able to provide additional financing whenever shortfalls are announced.” The delegate added that the US supports more realistic expectations regarding the levels of contributions to be received, so as to avoid funding shortfalls in the second year of a cycle “but rather create budgets that are within our means which are realistic and not aspirational.” The WHO secretariat said it is working hard to broaden the donor base to breach the gap of US$400 million, and is aiming at cost-saving, in particular staff cost, one of the highest expenditures in Geneva. The secretariat is thus freezing and delaying some recruitment and looking at trimming down travel and meeting expenses. Budget 2018-2019 According to the PBAC document, “The total budget proposed for the biennium 2018–2019 amounted to US$ 4474.5 million. The proposed increase was mainly in the budgets for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme (US$ 69.1 million) and the programme for combating antimicrobial resistance (US$ 23.3 million). The other areas remained relatively stable.” A number of countries which took the floor voiced concerns about the financial sustainability of the WHO, and asked for a realistic budget for the next biennium. The Africa Region suggested reducing business class fares for WHO staff and a further reduction of travel costs. The Liberian delegate, on behalf of the region, said recruitment of P5 level staff should be held off as they “significantly impact the budget.” Several countries, such as Belgium, Australia and Canada, asked that the budget be more closely aligned to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Chan encouraged member states to continue informal discussions to establish medium and long-term solutions so the organisation has the means to produce the kind of results that are expected by the secretariat. She remarked on the fact that last year she already asked for a 5 percent increase in assessed contributions and member states asked for more time. The WHO is requested to do more work, “but where is the money coming from”? she asked. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com."US Could Agree To Slight Funding Increase At WHO Despite Trump Threats" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.