GENEVA — Member countries of the World Health Organization have approved an “ambitious increase” in the budget for the U.N. health agency at a meeting, with some noting that WHO’s chronic underfunding cripples its ability to protect global health.
Delegates at the World Health Assembly on Thursday approved a 16% increase to WHO’s proposed budget for the next two years, setting it at about $6.1 billion.
More than 90% of WHO’s funding is tied to specific health issues, and the agency often struggles to respond to urgent crises. Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergencies chief, said there is currently a 70% funding gap, which has “left the organization in real and imminent danger of being unable to sustain core functions for urgent priorities.”
A commissioned review of the WHO in the wake of its global handling of the COVID-19 pandemic suggested the agency could have acted faster and more aggressively to stem the spread of the coronavirus, but also said it lacked power and money.