More Funds for Non-Communicable Diseases Needed Say WHO EB Members

A proposed request by World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Gheyebresus for an 8 percent budget hike for the 2020-2021 budget period received a rocky initial reception from leading member states at the WHO’s Executive Board meeting that began today.

Gheyebresus has said that the budget hike is needed to reach the organization’s “Triple Billion” goal to expand universal health coverage, protect more people from emergencies and improve healthy lives – benefitting 3 billion people over the next five years.

But budget plans don’t appear to address a key emerging global health priority, non-communicable diseases, said a number of representatives from the 34 member states that make up the Executive Board body.

“There are imbalances among the different technical programmes,” said China’s representative Zhang Yang, Director General of China’s Department of International Cooperation. “NCDs for 3 bienniums [two year budget periods] in a row, it is poorly funded,” she added.

“There are areas that are over funded and other areas seem to be pockets of poverty.  This is not the same time we have faced this situation,” said Germany’s representative, Bjorn Kumme, deputy head, Global Health, Federal Ministry of Health. “We keep coming to Geneva and we realize that we face the same situation again and again, but we don’t solve the structural problem.”

WHO’s director general reminded the EB critics that the funding imbalances are in very large part due to a history of donors earmarking funds for their priority projects – which don’t always reflect the priorities of member states.

He said that the WHO administration was attempting to revamp fundraising – and convince more donors, both governmental and civil society, to contribute to a stronger system of corporate-wide funding, leaving WHO free to designate how they would be used.

“Ultimately we have to move into corporate resource mobilization,” said Dr. Tedros. “From your side, you will help us by giving us corporate resources or un-earmarked resources at the highest level, and then we can address the pockets of [budget] poverty. We want ‘quality’ money. You don’t have big scaled change if you have small projects everywhere.”


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