About WHO

Readily available funds to respond

19 May 2015

To lead the response to emergencies with health consequences, WHO needs adequate, flexible and sustainable financial resources that enable immediate response commensurate with a given emergency. A contingency fund would provide the financial resources to mount an immediate response and prevent escalation into a public health emergency of international concern.

A WHO field worker checks a health worker's protective clothing.

In January 2015, the Executive Board agreed, in principle, to establish a contingency fund and requested the Director-General to provide options on size, scope, sustainability, operations and sources of financing, and accountability mechanisms. It was also specified that options should include the possibility of funding from within WHO’s programme budget and should take into account other relevant financing mechanisms and emergency funds already in operation or being considered.

The report of the Director-General to the World Health Assembly includes a set of guiding principles for the management of a contingency fund. Ideally, the resources in the fund should be fully flexible to ensure that the emergency response is needs driven. When full flexibility is not possible, the resources in the fund should be aligned with priorities and operational plans. The fund should be sustainable, with contributions from a broad donor base. It should be complementary to existing funding mechanisms. There should be standards for accountability and transparency on how it is operated and the fund should err on the side of simplicity to ensure transparency. The fund should be adequate, available and rapidly accessible. It should be available globally to optimize speed of response. Its early use should aim to prevent, whenever possible, that an event escalates further.

The scope of the fund must be broad enough to allow WHO to be an efficient responder, but at the same time remain a contingency fund. It should support all aspects of WHO´s response work, from mobilization of emergency health workforce to response-related preparedness and surveillance. When other funds are available for the particular emergency, the fund should not be used. In line with the recommendation of the review committee of the functioning of the International Health Regulations (2005) and Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1), the size of the fund should be at least US$ 100 million.