WHO Establishes Foundation to Support Critical Health Challenges

WHO predicts 250 million infections in Africa

The World Health Organization (WHO), on Wednesday, established the WHO Foundation that will support the organisation’s efforts to address the most pressing global health challenges.

Established as an independent grant-making entity and headquartered in Geneva, the foundation will support global public health needs by providing funds to WHO and trusted implementing partners to deliver on the organisation’s “triple billion” goals, the WHO chief, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said during the virtual briefing.

The foundation is featured in WHO’s five-year strategic plan and it aims to: protect one billion people from health emergencies; extend universal health coverage to one billion people; and assure healthy lives and wellbeing to one billion people by 2023.

The foundation is legally separate from WHO and will facilitate contributions from the general public, individual major donors and corporate partners to WHO and trusted partners to deliver on high-impact programmes.

The WHO Foundation will also simplify the processing of philanthropic contributions in support of WHO and make such contributions possible on all aspects of health and WHO’s mission.

“Its goal is to help broaden WHO’s donor base and work towards more sustainable and predictable funding.

“An important part of WHO’s future success is broadening its donor base and increasing both the quantity and quality of funds at its disposal,” said Mr Ghebreyesus.

He said the foundation will promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.

The founder of the Foundation, Thomas Zeltner, said “the work of the WHO is vital for both safeguarding and promoting global health – a role that has become all the more crucial in light of the pandemic. WHO’s achievements and contributions to global health and the wellbeing of humanity are tremendous, but we cannot take those accomplishments for granted.

“The WHO deserves a strong, independent, external advocate who can support and strengthen its impact. I am proud to lead these efforts and to create this missing piece in global health by establishing the WHO Foundation,” Mr Zeltner, who is a former Secretary of Health of Switzerland and Director-General of the Swiss National Health Authority, said.

Established under the laws of Switzerland, the Foundation has benefitted from the guidance of an Advisory Group that has included experts in global health, philanthropy, ethics, and finance.

The Foundation’s Board will now assume all governance responsibilities and will review all strategic decisions and serve as the highest decision-making body of the Foundation.

Founding Board Members are: Bob Carter, Clare Akamanzi and Mr Zeltner, a professor.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO Foundation will initially focus on emergencies and pandemic response, and it will also raise and disburse funds for all WHO global public health priorities in full alignment with the WHO Member State adopted General Programme of Work.