Work Of WHO Essential Medicines Department At Risk Due To Funding Shortage, Oxfam Warns

“The work of the essential medicines department of the World Health Organization (WHO) is under threat because of a serious shortage of funds, says a worrying and important letter published in the Lancet [on Thursday],” Guardian Health Editor Sarah Boseley reports in her “Global Health Blog.” “According to the letter from Mohga Kamal-Yanni of Oxfam, the work of updating … the essential medicines list, which tells every health ministry in every corner of the world, however tiny their budget, which drugs they should be getting for their people … [and] for children, is now being paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” the blog writes.

“Oxfam is calling on the WHO to put the department on a secure financial footing, and is calling attention to the problem before the executive board meeting this month,” the blog writes, adding, “At the same time, a Lancet editorial praising the work of Director-General Margaret Chan who is about to be formally re-elected (no one else is standing) says WHO needs and deserves more support from donor governments. Its work is too important to be allowed to slide for lack of money” (Boseley, 1/12).