The U.S. Government and the World Health Organization

Key Information

  • The International Well being Group (WHO), based in 1948, is a specialised company of the United International locations with a vast mandate to behave as a coordinating authority on world well being problems, together with serving to nations mount responses to public well being emergencies akin to COVID-19.
  • The U.S. govt (U.S.) has lengthy been actively engaged with WHO, offering monetary and technical toughen in addition to collaborating in its governance construction.
  • The U.S. has traditionally been some of the biggest funders of WHO, offering between $200 million and $600 million every year during the last decade. In 2020, the Trump management suspended monetary toughen and initiated a procedure to withdraw the U.S. from club within the group, however President Biden reversed that call upon taking workplace in January 2021 and restored U.S. investment to WHO.
  • The WHO faces many demanding situations going ahead, together with having a vast mandate however restricted, rigid investment, in addition to a posh bureaucratic construction. The group has instituted adjustments to deal with a few of these problems, however many governments, together with the U.S., are calling for additional reforms to permit WHO to higher reply to long term epidemics and pandemics in addition to different international well being problems.

What’s the International Well being Group (WHO)?

The WHO, founded in 1948, is a specialised company of the United International locations. As defined in its constitution, WHO has a vast mandate to “act because the directing and coordinating authority on world well being paintings” inside the United International locations device. It has 194 member states.

The company has played a key function in quite a lot of previous international well being achievements, such because the Alma-Ata Declaration on number one well being care (1978), the eradication of smallpox (officially known in 1980), the Framework Conference on Tobacco Keep an eye on (followed in 2003), and the 2005 revision of the Global Well being Rules (IHR), a global settlement that outlines roles and tasks in making ready for and responding to world well being emergencies.

Undertaking and Priorities

WHO’s overarching mission is “attainment via all peoples of the absolute best imaginable stage of well being.” It helps its undertaking via activities akin to:

  • offering technical help to nations;
  • environment world well being requirements and offering steerage on well being problems;
  • coordinating and supporting world responses to well being emergencies akin to illness outbreaks; and
  • selling and advocating for higher international well being.

The group additionally serves as a convener and host for world conferences and discussions on well being problems. Whilst WHO is in most cases now not a right away funder of well being services and products and methods in nations, it does supply provides and different toughen all the way through emergencies and carries out methods funded via donors.

WHO’s overarching goal for its paintings all the way through the 2019-2023 duration has been “making sure wholesome lives and selling well-being for all at every age.” In pursuit of this goal, it’s been specializing in 3 strategic priorities (the “triple-billion goals”):

  • serving to 1 billion extra other folks get pleasure from common well being protection;
  • making sure 1 billion extra individuals are higher safe towards well being emergencies; and
  • serving to 1 billion extra other folks revel in higher well being and well-being.

As a part of its paintings to assist nations be higher safe towards well being emergencies and propelled via the problems and demanding situations confronted all the way through the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO is overseeing two units of world negotiations associated with pandemic preparedness and reaction amongst member states: a procedure to review and potentially amend the IHR settlement and the drafting and negotiating of a brand new settlement, conference, or different world software on pandemic prevention, preparedness and reaction (the “pandemic accord”). Each those negotiations are ongoing and are anticipated to proceed no less than via 2024.


WHO has a global reach, with a headquarters workplace situated in Geneva, Switzerland, six semi-autonomous regional places of work that oversee actions in each and every area, and a community of nation places of work and representatives all over the world. It’s led via a Director-General (DG), recently Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who used to be first appointed in 2017 and used to be re-elected to a 2d five-year time period in Would possibly 2022. Dr. Tedros has indicated that priorities for his 2d time period come with strengthening WHO’s financing, staffing, and operations; construction pandemic preparedness and reaction capacities at WHO and in other places; and serving to nations re-orient well being programs towards number one well being care and common well being protection.

International Well being Meeting

The World Health Assembly (WHA), produced from representatives from WHO’s 194 member states, is the best decision-making frame for the company and is convened every year. It’s accountable for deciding on the Director-Common, environment priorities, and approving WHO’s funds and actions. The yearly WHA assembly in Might also serves as a key discussion board for international locations to discuss and make choices about well being coverage and WHO organizational problems. Each and every six years, the WHA negotiates and approves a piece plan for WHO, referred to as the overall programme of labor. The current plan, protecting 2019-2023, has been extended via the WHA via 2025. Each and every two years the WHA additionally approves the WHO’s programme funds in toughen of its paintings plan; the present programme funds covers the 2022-2023 biennium. Extra details about WHO’s funds equipped underneath.

Govt Board

WHO’s Executive Board, produced from 34 participants technically certified within the box of well being, facilitates the implementation of the company’s paintings plan and offers proposals and proposals to the Director-Common and the WHA. The 34 members are drawn from six areas as follows:

  • 7 constitute Africa,
  • 6 constitute the Americas,
  • 5 constitute the Japanese Mediterranean,
  • 8 constitute Europe,
  • 3 constitute South-East Asia, and
  • 5 constitute the Western Pacific.

Member states inside each and every area designate participants to serve at the Govt Board on a rotating foundation. The U.S. recently holds a seat at the Govt Board.


WHO helps actions throughout quite a lot of key spaces, arranged into a number of “funds segments,” together with “base programmes,” emergency operations, polio eradication, and “particular programmes” (see Desk 1). “Base programmes” refers back to the core toughen equipped for WHO headquarters actions, regional operations, and efforts akin to making improvements to get entry to to high quality crucial well being services and products, crucial drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, and units for number one well being care. “Emergency operations” contains WHO efforts to assist nations get ready for and reply to epidemics and different well being emergencies akin to COVID-19, mpox, and natural disasters. “Particular programmes” contains quite a lot of WHO-led tasks such because the Research and Training in Tropical Diseases program and Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Framework actions.


Programme Price range

WHO has a programme funds set prematurely via member states, which is supposed to stipulate deliberate actions to satisfy its paintings plan over a two-year duration (biennium) and describes the “useful resource ranges required to ship that paintings.” The programme funds for 2022-2023 used to be to start with set at $6.12 billion, however in 2022, member states agreed to revise the programme funds upward to $6.72 billion to permit for added spending associated with COVID-19 reaction and different problems. The revised quantity represents a fifteen% building up over WHO’s prior 2020-2021 programme funds of $5.84 billion. The programme funds for the following biennium (2024-2025), licensed via member states on the 2023 WHA, is ready at $6.86 billion.

The programme funds represents a plan for the group’s expected assets, however exact assets might deviate from the preliminary budgeted quantities over process the biennium because of converting or surprising cases, akin to further assets (income) equipped to WHO for emergency responses or decrease ranges of toughen than anticipated. As an example, within the present biennium WHO expects (as of April 2023) that programme assets will general greater than $10 billion, because of further investment being won or directed in toughen of emergency operations, together with COVID-19 reaction, and polio eradication actions. See Desk 1 for extra main points.

Price range Section Deliberate Programme Price range
(as revised in Would possibly 2022)
Present Programme Price range*
(as of April 2023)
Base programmes 4,968.4 4,968.4
Polio eradication 558.3 1,246.1
Particular programmes 199.3 199.3
Emergency operations and appeals (together with COVID-19 reaction) 1,000.0 3,994.8
TOTAL 6,726.0 10,408.7
NOTES: *Present programme funds contains projected quantities and final shortfalls. Precise assets (income and expenditures) on the finish of the biennium might fluctuate from those quantities because of further voluntary contributions from donors (in particular in toughen of emergency operations) or decrease donor contributions than anticipated. Sum of funds phase quantities would possibly not equivalent general because of rounding. Knowledge as of April 2023.

SOURCES: WHO. Financing of 2022-23 Biennium: Programme Price range Till Q2-2023 (April). Accessed Would possibly 16, 2023. Additionally see WHO. Programme Price range 2022-2023.;  WHO. Revision of the Programme funds 2022–2023.


WHO has two number one assets of revenue:

  • assessed contributions (set quantities anticipated to be paid via member-state governments, scaled via source of revenue and inhabitants) and
  • voluntary contributions (different budget equipped via member states, plus contributions from personal organizations and folks).

Maximum assessed contributions are thought to be “core” investment, which means they’re versatile budget which might be frequently used to hide common bills and program actions. Voluntary contributions, alternatively, are frequently “specified” budget, which means they’re earmarked via donors for sure actions. A number of a long time in the past, the vast majority of WHO’s income got here from assessed contributions, however over the years, voluntary contributions have come to contain the greater share of WHO’s funds. As an example, within the current budget period (2022-2023), as of April 2023, assessed contributions totaled $956.9 million (12.1% of general income up to now), voluntary contributions totaled $6.92 billion (87.5% of general income up to now), and “different income” totaled $28.1 million (0.4%). See Determine 1.

Reliance on voluntary, fairly rigid investment has, in WHO’s view, hampered its operations and effectiveness. In 2022, member states, together with the U.S., agreed in idea to move toward extra predictable, versatile investment for WHO and to cut back the function of specified voluntary contributions. Really useful investment adjustments include: expanding assessed contributions beginning within the 2024-2025 biennium and instituting a function to have 50% of WHO’s program funds be financed via assessed contributions via 2030, which might be linked to WHO assembly sure organizational benchmarks. Member states also are exploring the choice of the usage of a “replenishment” mechanism for WHO, which might permit for extra strong and predictable investment via attracting new donors and permitting multi-year donor commitments. On the Would possibly 2023 WHA, member states approved a 20% increase in assessed contributions for the following (2024-2025) biennium as a primary step in reshaping WHO’s funds; additional adjustments or will increase in investment for WHO will likely be voted on in long term WHA conferences.

Demanding situations

WHO faces quite a lot of institutional demanding situations, together with:

  • a scope of duty that has expanded over the years with little expansion in core, non-emergency investment;
  • an rigid funds ruled lately via much less predictable voluntary contributions frequently earmarked for explicit actions;
  • a bulky, decentralized, and bureaucratic governance construction; and
  • a twin mandate of being each a technical company with well being experience and a political frame the place states debate and negotiate on on occasion divisive well being problems.

Those and different demanding situations had been in particular glaring all the way through and after perceived failures of the company within the reaction to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa (2014-2015), and within the criticisms directed at WHO because it attempted to assist coordinate a world reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time as many member states proceed to toughen WHO and acknowledge its significance for international well being, many also are calling for reforms to the group that might assist deal with its weaknesses. WHO itself supports reforms in numerous spaces to assist deal with a few of these ongoing considerations.

U.S. Engagement with WHO

The U.S. govt has lengthy been engaged with WHO in more than one techniques together with via monetary toughen, participation in governance and international relations, and joint actions (see underneath). In 2020, after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump management suspended monetary toughen and initiated a procedure to withdraw the U.S. from club within the group, marking a turning level within the U.S. dating with WHO. Beneath the Biden management, U.S. members of the family with the group had been re-established in January 2021, and U.S. investment to WHO used to be restored.

Monetary Fortify

One of the vital major techniques during which the U.S. govt helps WHO is thru its assessed and voluntary contributions. The U.S. has traditionally been the only biggest contributor to WHO. Within the 2020-2021 duration even though (when the Trump management withheld some U.S. investment all the way through the COVID-19 pandemic), it used to be the third largest as different donors, significantly Germany and the Invoice and Melinda Gates Basis, greater their contributions according to COVID-19; in 2021, below restored investment from the Biden management, the U.S. equipped WHO an estimated $583 million in blended assessed and voluntary contributions. For the 2022-23 duration, the U.S. is as soon as once more the largest contributor to WHO (see extra underneath).

For a few years, the assessed contribution for the U.S. has been set at 22% of all member state assessed contributions, the utmost allowed price. Between FY 2014 and FY 2023, the U.S. assessed contribution has been somewhat strong, fluctuating between $110 million and $123 million (in FY 2019 and FY 2020 the U.S. in truth paid lower than its assessed quantity, and in FY 2021 it paid greater than that quantity because of bills made towards exceptional arrears). See Determine 2.

Voluntary contributions for explicit initiatives or actions, alternatively, have numerous to mirror converting U.S. priorities and/or toughen all the way through world crises. During the last decade, U.S. voluntary contributions have ranged from a low of $102 million in FY 2014 to a top of $402 million in FY 2017. Upper quantities of voluntary contributions may also be reflective of greater U.S. toughen for explicit WHO actions akin to emergency reaction. U.S. voluntary contributions additionally toughen a spread of alternative WHO actions akin to polio eradication; maternal, new child, and kid well being methods; psychological well being services and products for sufferers of torture and trauma; well being coordination in COVID-19 reaction; and different infectious illnesses.

WHO reports that U.S. assessed and voluntary contributions in combination represented roughly 15% of WHO’s general income within the 2022-2023 biennium, making the U.S. used to be the most important donor to WHO all the way through that duration.

Governance Actions

The U.S. is an energetic player in WHO governance, together with throughout the Govt Board and the International Well being Meeting (WHA). The U.S. recently holds a seat at the WHO Govt Board via 2025. The U.S. has traditionally been an energetic and engaged member of the WHA, sending a big delegation each and every 12 months that has normally been led via a consultant from the Division of Well being and Human Services and products, with more than one different U.S. businesses and departments additionally collaborating.

Technical Fortify

The U.S. supplies technical toughen to WHO via a number of actions and partnerships. This contains U.S. govt professionals and assets supporting analysis and reference laboratory paintings by way of WHO taking part centres and participation of U.S. professionals on advisory panels and advisory teams convened via WHO. The U.S. contributions to WHO taking part centres come with technical spaces akin to most cancers, occupational well being, vitamin, continual illnesses, and making improvements to well being applied sciences. As well as, U.S. govt representatives are frequently seconded to or have served as liaisons at WHO headquarters and WHO regional places of work, running day by day with team of workers on technical efforts.

Partnering Actions

The U.S. has additionally labored in partnership with WHO sooner than and all the way through responses to outbreaks and different world well being emergencies, together with collaborating in world groups that WHO organizes to research and reply to outbreaks all over the world. As an example, the U.S. labored with WHO and the wider multilateral reaction to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa that started in 2014, and U.S. scientists had been a part of the WHO delegation that visited China in February 2020 to evaluate its reaction to COVID-19. To assist additional broaden spaces of partnership and coordination, the Biden management has instituted semi-regular “strategic dialogue” conferences to create an ordinary discussion board for discussions between key U.S. and WHO officers.

Key Problems for the U.S.

The U.S. has a protracted historical past of supporting and dealing with WHO, and even though that dating used to be strained all the way through the primary 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic below the Trump management, members of the family have normalized as soon as once more below the Biden management. Present U.S. priorities for WHO come with instituting investment and governance reforms and assuring larger transparency and duty from the group. The U.S. has supported expanding assessed contributions over the years to supply extra versatile investment and predictability for the WHO funds, contingent at the group assembly reform benchmarks. The U.S. frequently highlights the essential function performed via WHO in addressing international well being threats akin to epidemics and pandemics and helps strengthening the group’s pandemic reaction capacities; this contains U.S. recommending a suite of revisions to the Global Well being Rules (IHRs), and toughen for the process to create a brand new world felony software – a possible “pandemic accord” – below the auspices of WHO. Even so, there stay many questions on whether or not and when many of those proposals will likely be enacted, how intensive they could be, and what function the U.S. might play in serving to undertake them.

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