World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced on Wednesday the creation of a foundation that will enable it to tap new sources of funding, including the general public.
The WHO Foundation is being created as an independent grant-making entity that will support the organisation’s efforts to address the most pressing global health challenges by raising new funds from “non-traditional sources”.
Tedros said this month the UN body’s annual budget of about $2.3bn was “very, very small” for a global agency, close to that of a medium-sized hospital in the developed world.
He also said the funding sources were too uncertain, being overly reliant on “flexible funding” that can fluctuate.
"The Solidarity Response Fund will continue to receive donations to support WHO’s work on #COVID19, while the WHO Foundation will help to fund all elements of WHO’s work and be fully aligned with our priorities"-@DrTedros
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) May 27, 2020
The WHO chief said the creation of the WHO Foundation had nothing to do with “recent funding issues”.
The United States suspended funding to the WHO in April after President Donald Trump complained about its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump accused the WHO of promoting China’s “disinformation” about the COVID-19 outbreak. Tedros and officials at the UN health agency have denied the accusations and China says it has been transparent and open.
On May 18, the US president sent Tedros a letter listing what he said were examples of the WHO’s shortcomings in managing the pandemic, including ignoring early reports of the emergence of the virus.
He accused the UN body of caving in to Chinese pressure by declining to declare coronavirus a global health emergency in the initial days of the outbreak.
Trump went on to criticise the WHO for praising China’s “transparency”, despite reports Beijing had punished several doctors in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, for speaking out about the viral infection in late December.
The US leader also threatened to halt funding from the body’s top donor altogether if it does not commit to reforms within 30 days.
The WHO has now bowed to calls from most of its member states to launch an independent probe into how it managed the international response to the pandemic.
The probe is expected to shed light on the origins of the virus and China’s early handling of the outbreak.