Providing proof that the independence of the World Health Organization (WHO) has been severely compromised, a document from the 2018 annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s decision-making body, gives revealing details of where the organization’s funding comes from. During 2017, the total amount of money provided to the WHO by countries was exceeded by that coming from non-state actors, including the pharmaceutical industry. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contributed almost $327 million to the WHO’s General and Fiduciary Funds, making it the second-largest donor overall. The only donations to these funds higher than those of the Gates Foundation came from the government of the United States.
Money donated by countries to the WHO’s General and Fiduciary Funds totaled $1.06 billion in 2017. This was less than the contributions from non-state actors, which amounted to $1.08 billion. Along with the Gates Foundation, other prominent sources of funding included the Brussels EU Commission, which gave over $84 million; the ‘Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’, an organization promoting the use of antiretroviral drugs and other pharmaceutical approaches, which contributed over $16 million; and UNITAID, another organization promoting the use of pharmaceuticals, which gave almost $30 million.
Drug and chemical industry donations to the WHO
The multinational drug and chemical industries and their investors figure prominently in the lists of WHO donors. Money contributed to the WHO’s General Fund by these sources during 2017 included the following: