WHO’s Travel Spending Does Not Represent ‘Warped Priorities’ But Reflects Necessary Operations To Fulfill Global Health Mandate

Washington Post: The World Health Organization spends more on travel than on key diseases. That’s actually okay.
Mara Pillinger, PhD candidate in political science at George Washington University

“…[C]omplaints about U.N. spending and priorities tend not to understand how U.N. agencies such as the WHO work, and who gets to decide what these agencies do and how they spend money. Here’s what’s really going on. … Claims that the WHO secretariat spends $200 million annually on staff travel are a misrepresentation. Staff travel accounts for about 40 percent of that figure. About 60 percent of the budget pays for WHO member state representatives to attend biannual governance meetings, and for experts from around the world to serve on advisory panels and provide technical assistance to governments. … Without travel, WHO would have a hard time knowing what is happening on the ground. … WHO’s overall budget and spending limits are set by member states, including the United States. … The big sweeping claim, that WHO’s travel spending epitomizes bureaucratic waste and warped priorities, is wrong. That said, the AP report raises important issues. … Senior WHO officials have acknowledged and are attempting to curb these problems (with limited success). … [O]n the whole, WHO’s travel spending is a basic feature of its mandate as an international organization, not a symptom of bureaucracy run amok” (6/22).

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