WHO

3
The Financing Of The Who

Yet another fight against corruption -- Return to main page

SHOW ME THE MONEY: WHO FUNDS WHO

by Wanda Hamilton

How the WHO Is Funded

he World Health Organization is funded by assessments levied on its 191 member countries and by donations. Its "regular budget" is the total of the members' assessments and its "extrabudgetary funds"[EBF] are the total of voluntary donations by member countries, as well as by public and private entities. Thus it is partially funded rather like a private club (membership dues) and partially funded like a charity (donations).



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From its founding in l948 until the early l980s the WHO relied almost exclusively on member assessments, but increasingly donations have played a bigger and bigger role in its financing. "Between l984-85 and l992-93 the real value of the EBFs apparently increased by more than 60%, and in the l990-91 biennium expenditure of extrabudgetary funds exceeded the regular budget for the first time,"(Vaughan JP, Mogedal S, Druse S, Lee K, Walt G, de Wilde K, "Financing the World Health Organization: global importance of extrabudgetary funds," Health Policy, l996 Mar;35(3):229-45). And WHO's reliance on donations has increased throughout the l990s, with an astounding 50% growth in EBFs between l996-97 and l998-l999 (from a total of $658,012,975 to an estimated total of $956,000,000).

This means essentially that the WHO is up for grabs to the highest donors, and that it must set its health policies and projects on those issues, which will bring in the most donations. In other words, its global health priorities are now being determined by what appeals to its biggest donorsrather than by the actual needs of the world's poorest and sickest populations, the very population WHO was set up to serve.

Is it any wonder, then, that WHO has followed the lead of the United States and made the eradication of cigarette smoking one its top priorities rather than, say, the eradication of tuberculosis? After all, tobacco's where the money is since the politically correct of the developed world have turned "anti-tobaccoism" into a cause celébre. Disease-ridden, fly-bespecked, starving children in some remote corner of the world just aren't sexy enough as a cause to draw in the big bucks. As its balance sheets attest, the big bucks for the WHO are in AIDS and reproduction (sex) and tobacco.

And so WHO has gone from being a noble institution which helped eradicate smallpox from the world to being just another money-grubbing health "charity" which squanders more money on "administrative costs" and meetings and public relations than it does on helping to ameliorate disease and human suffering.

The Regular Budget: Member Assessments

WHO's 191 member nations are assessed yearly fees on a sliding scale. Small, poor countries pay only a few thousand a year (e.g. Belize is assessed only US $3,290). Wealthier countries pay a good deal more (e.g. in l999 Germany is being assessed just under US $40 million a year). The United States is far and away the biggest funder of the "regular" budget, and its l999 assessment is a cool US $108,371,585. It is followed by Japan at US $81,158,895.

Obviously the U.S. is a very powerful political force in the WHO since it holds such a very big stick in the funding for the regular budget.

WHO's regular budget for l998-99 was US $842 million.

Donations: Extrabudgetary Funds (EBFs) [To view the documents on EBFs on the WHO site, Click here]

WHO receives donations from a myriad of sources -- from member countries, from other United Nations agencies such as UNICEF and the World Bank, from cities, states and provinces, from public and private universities, from private organizations, associations, foundations, corporations and even from individuals.

Basically WHO divides its records on EBFs into two categories by donors: Voluntary funds from member countries and voluntary funds from other contributors. Each of these is in turn divided into: "Voluntary Fund for Health Promotion" and "Other Funding."

It will come as no surprise that once again the United States is the biggest total contributor of voluntary donations among the member countries, making up more than one-quarter of the total in l998. This means, of course, that the WHO will do whatever it takesto keep the U.S. happy. The U.S. is promoting global "tobacco control," so WHO will follow suit if it wants to keep its most powerful and generous benefactor happy.

Funds contributed by donors other than member countries come primarily from corporations and organizations, though there are some sizeable contributions from individuals. It can be noted from looking at the list of these donors that virtually all the world's major pharmaceutical companies (and their subdivisions) are among the corporate donors, though no single one is among the biggest donors. No doubt their more recent contributions will increase, given that WHO is providing what amounts to global promotion for the smoking cessation product manufacturersin its cessation theme for this year's World No-Tobacco Day.

It is clear that individuals as well as corporations and other private entities can purchase influence with WHO by donating money.

This year Dr. Sid E. Williams of Life University in Marietta, Georgia had the honor of delivering the opening address to the Non-Governmental Organizations [NGO] Forum on Health at the WHO's 52nd Session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva (May l7-26, l999).

One might well ask who on earth Dr. Sid E. Williams is and what Life University is. Dr. Williams is the founder and president of Life University, home of the world's largest school of chiropractic (according to its PR at least). And just how did WHO come to select Dr. Williams to address the NGO forum? It seems that Life University is a co-sponsor of the event, where a number of presentations on the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control will be made. Further, Life College School of Chiropractic has donated US $165,160 to WHO, with contributions of US $39,550 in l998 alone. These sums may not seem large until they are compared with say Harvard University, which has given a total of only US $3,000 to WHO or the London School of Economics, which has given a total of US $29,258.

When former Norwegian politician Gro Harlem Brundtland took over as the Director-General of WHO in Jan. l998, she immediately made tobacco control a global priority for the organization. Obviously she was aware of its PR and financial potential. She formed WHO's Tobacco Free Project and began to close ranks with the pharmaceutical corporations, the World Bank, and the big private non-profits.

Nine months later she announced that she was confident WHO could secure proper funding for its global anti-smoking campaign. "With regard to tobacco, I am confident that it will be possible to mobilize millions of dollars,"("WHO pinpoints smoking as huge global health threat," Christopher Follett, Reuters, 9/17/98).

And she was quite right. In return for making smoking cessation the theme of WHO's l999 World No-Tobacco Day, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations and the World Self-Medication Industry provided the financial support and help with public relations for the event.

Obviously money talks at WHO at every level, and what the money is saying these days is "Go after tobacco."

WHO's NONGOVERNMENTAL ASSOCIATES
Here is the complete list of FORMAL associations with the WHO. We call the reader's attention to the section at the bottom of the list about informal contracts, etc.
DIRECTORY OF NONGOVERNMENTAL ASSOCIATIONS IN OFFICIAL RELATIONS WITH THE WHO
THE BIG MONEY THAT TALKS AT WHO
One of the many non-governmental organizations affiliated with WHO. In January, Brundtland announced partnership with certain specific pharmaceutical companies which she named (all, of course, make nicotine "cessation" products) along with the World Bank in the anti-tobacco loot scheme.
INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF PHARMACEUTICAL MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATIONS (IFPMA)
HOW THE EXTRA-BUDGETARY MACHINERY WORKS
Here it is possible to see how the extra-budgetary machinery works from the WHO's own documentation.
PLEASE NOTE: to read this document, Adobe Acrobat is required.
EXTRABUDGETARY RESOURCES: POLICY FRAMEWORK
Report by the Secretariat
BINGO!
The document is self-explanatory
EXTRABUDGETARY CONTRIBUTIONS FOR WHO-ASSISTED ACTIVITIES
MORE INFORMATION ON WHO's FINANCING
"Regular Budget. The fiscal period is in two calendar years starting with the even numbered years. For the financial period 1998-1999 an amount of USD $842,654,000 has been appropriated for programme purposes."
BUDGET AND FINANCE (BFI)
MONITORING THE [OFFICIAL VERSION OF THE] WHO's ACTIVITIES
This useful link enables the reader to have access to the Executive Board Documentation and to the World Health Assembly Documentation and the agendas, minutes, reports related to the World Health Assembly.
EXECUTIVE BOARD DOCUMENTATION

WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY DOCUMENTATION

... AND IF PERSUASION, FRAUDS AND POLITICS DON'T WORK, WE'LL USE BRUTE FORCE
Quote by a senior World Bank economist:
"Policy based lending is where the bank really has power--I mean brute force. When countries really have their backs against the wall, they can be pushed into reforming things at a broad policy level that normally, in the context of projects, they can't. The health sector can be caught up in this issue of conditionality."
("The World Bank and world health: healthcare strategy," Kamran Abbasi, British Medical Journal, April 3 l999;318:933-936)
HEALTH CARE STRATEGY

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