World Health Organization – who is contributing and who is not
The World Health Organization operates on a two-year budget cycle with a target of $4.8 billion. The annual budget thus is approximately $2,4 billion per year, with further targets for extreme emergencies.
The WHO receives funds in two ways:
- Assessed [pledged by countries] (17% of budget), Contributions (77%) and other contributions (6%)
- Voluntary contributions from countries, organizations and individuals.
For the 2020-2021 budget, $957 million was budgeted from assessed contributions and $4.9 billion from voluntary contributions. The invoiced assessed budget usually has a shortfall – such as the $218 million amount outstanding for the 2020 budget – due to poorer countries not able to meet their commitments but this shortfall is covered by the voluntary contributions made by the top contributors.
WHO top contributors
The 20 top contributors commit almost 50% of the WHO budget.
Country/Organization Assessed (if applicable) + Voluntary = Total
United States $237M + $656M = $893M
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation $531M
UK $43M + $392M = $435
Gavi Alliance $371M
Germany $61M + $231M = $292M
Japan $93M + $122M = $215M
Rotary International $143M
World Bank $133M
European Commission $131M
National Philanthropic Trust $108M
Canada $28M + $73M = $107M
U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund $87M
Norway $8M + $78M = $88M
China $76M + $10M = $86M
France $52M + $23.4M = $75.4M
Republic of Korea $19.5 + $51M = $70.5M
Kuwait $2.7M + $67M = $69.7M
Australia $1.6M + $45M = $46.6M
Sweden $9M + $36M = $45M
Forbes notes that since 2010, the United States government voluntarily contributed roughly $2.9 billion more than their required contribution.
The WHO, governed by the World Health Assembly, has 194 member states, two associate members – Puerto Rico and Tokelau – and observer status members such as The Holy See and the Order of Malta. To be part of the organization, each member is required to pay a certain amount, the “assessed contribution.”
In one of many WHO controversies Taiwan is, under political pressure from China, barred from WHO membership. Taiwan’s inclusion in WHO is supported by Australia, Germany, Japan and the United States, whose combines voluntary contribution is about 24% of the total voluntary support while China’s voluntary contribution is 0.21%.
Which countries are not contributing
Poor countries – mostly African and Muslim – are not in a position to meet their commitments to the World Health Organization but are, of course, the most depend on WHO services.
Somalia, for instance, is invoiced for only $4,760 per year (against a GDP of $7.7 billion) but is in arrears for $433,616. Other countries rocked by conflict, corruption and mismanagement – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Central African Republic, Iran, Iraq, Oman, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, etc. – also are in arrears in multiples of their assessed contributions. (Even China and other main contributors are in arrears.) See WHO Account Status Report [PDF].
Non-payment of fees does not prohibit a country from receiving support or being excluded from representation on the 34-member WHO Executive Board.
World Health Organization salaries
The WHO operation and management budget is $400M per annum but the actual requirement is more than double the amount.
The organization employs more than 8,000 staff around the world. The average salary is $77K per year with top earners earning twice that and the executives earning around $200,000 gross per annum. The Director-General receives $240,000 per annum.
About $200M is spent on travel every year which, as Associated Press pointed out, is more than what it spends to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Thus over five years they spend $1 billion on travel.
Other international aid agencies, including Doctors Without Borders, explicitly forbid their staff from traveling in business class. Even the charity’s president must fly in economy class, a spokeswoman said. With a staff of about 37,000 aid workers versus WHO’s 7,000 staffers, Doctors Without Borders spends about $43 million on travel a year.
The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, which has about 13,000 staffers, said it spent $140 million on global travel in 2016.
WHO budget in comparison
The CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) budget is $11 billion per year.
In comparison with other United Nations programs –
The World Food Program raises more than $8 billion per year, of which $3,400 million is donated by the United States and $30 million by China.
UNICEF (United Nations Childrens’ Fund) receives [PDF] more than $5,5 billion per year, one third of which are through private funding and the rest through the government sector of which the United States contributes more than $400 million per year.
The UNHRC (United Nation Refugee Agency) receives more than $8 billion in contributions [PDF], of which $1,600 million is from the United States and $478 million from the second largest contributor, the European Union. China contributes less than 2 million dollars.
The IOM (International Organization for Migration) has a budget of $1.8 billion, of which $255 million is contributed by the United States.