Published 2021
A better financed World Health Organization
By Leen Meulenbergs and Brian Elliott

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fundamental importance of strong health systems and universal access to quality health care. It has also highlighted the critical work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the importance of the Triple Billion targets captured in its Thirteenth General Programme of Work 2019–25, as well as the organisation’s mission statement of ‘promote health, keep the world safe, serve the vulnerable’.

Since the last update on financing for WHO in the 2019 edition of Financing the UN Development System, our world has changed significantly. Various independent panels reviewing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have emphasised that WHO needs more predictable and sustainable financing, in particular for its work aimed at averting health emergencies.

Ultimately, the authors’ conclusion is that fully and sustainably financing WHO’s budget represents an investment in a safer world – one that is less vulnerable to pandemics and health emergencies. It is an investment in ensuring healthy lives and the promotion of wellbeing regardless of age, as well as an investment in the economic prosperity of countries and the world. Above all, it is an investment in delivering our collective ambition to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.