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The Biggest Financial Contributors To The WHO


[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]by Niall McCarthy[/box]

As the slow initial U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic comes under increasing scrutiny, President Trump has denied any responsibility for the scale of the crisis and he shifted blame to the World Health Organization at a press conference yesterday, accusing the organization “of calling it wrong” of being “China-centric” and that “they should have called it months earlier”. That’s despite Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, warning on January 29 that the virus could be a risk for millions of Americans and cost trillions of dollars while the WHO labelled it a public health emergency the next day.

Trump referred to U.S. financial contributions to the organization, saying that “we’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO”. He then stated that “we’re going to put a very powerful hold on it and we’re going to see”. The president was subsequently asked if witholding money from the WHO in the middle of a pandemic was the right decision and he then seemed to backtrack, saying “no maybe not” before adding “I’m not saying I’m going to do it but we’re going to look at it.”

Given the back and forth at the press conference, which countries actually do contribute the most financially to the WHO? There are two kinds of payments – assessed contributions and voluntary supplementary assessed contributions. The first one is a membership fee where the total amount paid is calculated relative to wealth and population. The second is an extra voluntary financial contribution members are encouraged to make.

The Trump administration actually slashed WHO funding in its most recent budget proposal in February, cutting financial contributions from $122.6 million to an assessed contribution of $57.9 million. Despite the cut, that figure is still the highest contribution by far with China paying in the second highest sum with $28.6 million. Japan is in third place with $20.5 million. The total sum of assessed contributions due to be paid by all member states this year stood at $246.8 million on January 01, of which approximately $79 million had been paid by March 31.



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