WHO assembly approves $6.83b budget for next two years
It urges countries to carry out reforms needed to prepare for the next pandemic
Member states of the World Health Organization on Monday approved a $6.83 billion budget for the next two years which includes a 20 per cent hike in their mandatory fees.
The proposal for the 2024-2025 budget passed with no objections and was met with lengthy applause. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the step as "historic and a big milestone", reports Reuters.
"We don't take it lightly, and we don't take it for granted and we'll do everything that we can to make this organisation better," he added.
Speaking at the assembly weeks after ending the global emergency status for the COVID-19 pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization urged countries to carry out reforms needed to prepare for the next pandemic, hailing their "historic" decision to accept a major budget hike at the UN agency's annual assembly.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “It is time to advance negotiations on preventing the next pandemic.”
"We cannot kick this can down the road," the WHO director-general said in a major address to the agency's member states, warning that the next pandemic was bound to "come knocking".
"If we do not make the changes that must be made, then who will? And if we do not make them now, then when?" he said.
The 10-day annual World Health Assembly in Geneva, which coincides with the WHO's 75th anniversary, is set to address global health challenges including future pandemics, eradicating polio and supporting steps to ease Ukraine's health emergency triggered by Russia's invasion.
The WHO's 194 member states are now drafting a pandemic treaty which is up for adoption at next year's assembly.
"A commitment from this generation (to a pandemic accord) is important, because it is this generation that experienced how awful a small virus could be," said Tedros.
U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs Michele J. Sison said future increases would be "contingent upon continued reform progress". Central and South American countries also called for the WHO to address what they described as chronic underfunding of their region.