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WHO Initiates Its First Round of Investments to Sustainably Fund Its Health for All Initiative 



WHO Initiates Its First Round of Investments to Sustainably Fund Its Health for All Initiative 

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the opening of its first-ever Investment Round on Sunday to revamp the organization’s funding model in anticipation of a time of climate change, mass migration, pandemic threats, aging populations, and unstable geopolitics.

A year-long series of engagements and events, co-hosted by countries, will begin with the launch on the eve of the Seventy-seventh World Health Assembly. During this time, Member States and other donors will be invited to contribute funds to WHO’s strategy for 2025 through 2028 and demonstrate high-level political commitment to WHO and global health.

The Investment Round will come to an end in November with a significant pledge ceremony that Brazil will host in conjunction with the G20 Leaders’ Summit.

“It’s about ensuring WHO is fully funded and improving the quality of the funding we receive. Much of the funding we receive is unpredictable, reactive, and tightly defined,” Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, opening the high-level event on the eve of the Health Assembly. “The Investment Round aims to change that, by generating funding that is more flexible, predictable, and resilient.”

The World Health Organization’s third investment case, which will be unveiled at the Health Assembly on Tuesday, May 28, projects that 40 million lives will be saved between 2025 and 2028 if the Fourteenth General Programme of Work (GPW 14) is fully funded.

High-level support for the Investment Round

The Brazilian government announced during the high-level event on Sunday that, as part of its G20 presidency, it will host high-level events, such as the Leaders’ Summit in November, to support the Investment Round and encourage other countries to join the initiative.

“Global problems need global solutions, and no other organization has turned out to be in a better position to provide us a chance to come to global solutions,” Brazil’s Minister of Health Nísia Trindade said in a video address. “We will use the convening power of G20 to help mobilize efforts to make the Investment Round a success.”

The Investment Round has received a US$ 4 million fully flexible fund contribution from Qatar’s Minister of Health, Dr. Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari, along with an announcement of additional contributions to come.

“Health care is a fundamental human right and we must continue to invest in the World Health Organization to safeguard our health. Unity is the key to our success,” Dr Mohamed Al Kuwari said.

It was announced that Norway, Germany, and France would co-host the Investment Round.

“The WHO must be the guardian of scientific rigour, the whistleblower, and above all, the orchestra conductor, in Geneva and each of its Member States, of the actions of all those involved in global health,” said Frédéric Valletoux, Minister Delegate in charge of Health and Prevention, France.

“We as Member States need to deliver more predictable, more flexible, and sufficient funding of the WHO,” Norway’s Health Minister Jan Christian Vestre said. “Norway is committed to co-host the Investment Round, which will be an important step in securing the Organization more sustainable financing.”

Additional statements of the Investment Round came from former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, WHO’s Ambassador for Global Health Financing, and Dr. Gabriel Leung of the Institute of Philanthropy.

The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, presented the Global Health Leaders Award for lifetime achievement to Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who also spoke in favor of the WHO Investment Round, emphasizing its significance for Small Island Developing States.

“We live in a world where we ought to know better, and I say so on the launch of this Investment Round largely because what is being asked for is miniscule in proportion to where money is being spent elsewhere,” Ms Mottley said.

During the event on Sunday, Nandita Das, an Indian actor, filmmaker, and social activist who is a member of the esteemed international festival jury presented prizes to the winners of the 5th edition of WHO’s Health for All Film Festival.

Internationally recognized Egyptian opera singer Farrah El-Dibany and Franco-American pianist Jeff Cohen performed at the launch event.

Germany threw a post-event reception at WHO headquarters, which Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach opened. Pau Gasol, the basketball player and champion of the fight against childhood obesity, also made remarks during the reception. Sherrie Silver, a choreographer, dancer, actor, UN development advocate, and philanthropist, performed with a group of young dancers.

Matching WHO’s funding with its responsibilities

The World Health Organization’s mission is to promote health, prevent disease, increase access to healthcare, and coordinate global responses to an increasing number of health emergencies caused by war, disease outbreaks, and natural disasters. The WHO Executive Board approved the Investment Round in January, noting that funding had not kept up with this demand.

The World Health Organization was left dependent on voluntary, frequently earmarked, and unpredictable contributions to fund its operations by 2022–2023. This dynamic led to uncertainty and inefficiencies throughout the Organization and left areas where approved activities went unfunded. By that time, Member States’ assessed contributions (membership dues) only made up 13% of the Organization’s budget.

One of the main suggestions made by the Working Group on Sustainable Financing for WHO, which is led by Member States, and accepted by Member States, was to hold an Investment Round to transform WHO into a predictable, flexible, and sustainably funded organization. Additionally, Member States have agreed to raise their assessed contributions, putting them on track to contribute 50% of WHO’s base budget by 2030. By enlisting new donations from WHO Member States that have not yet made voluntary contributions and by utilizing the WHO Foundation to connect with new private-sector donors, WHO hopes to increase the size of its donor base through the Investment Round.

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