Financing the World Health Organisation: global importance of extrabudgetary funds

Health Policy. 1996 Mar;35(3):229-45. doi: 10.1016/0168-8510(95)00786-5.


From 1948, when WHO was established, the Organisation has relied on the assessed contributions of its member states for its regular budget. However, since the early 1980s the WHO World Health Assembly has had a policy of zero real growth for the regular budget and has had to rely increasingly, therefore, on attracting additional voluntary contributions, called extrabudgetary funds (EBFs). Between 1984-85 and 1992-93 the real value of the EBFs apparently increased by more than 60% and in the 1990-91 biennium expenditure of extrabudgetary funds exceeded the regular budget for the first time. All WHO programmes, except the Assembly and the Executive Board, receive some EBFs. However, three cosponsored and six large regular programmes account for about 70% of these EBFs, mainly for vertically managed programmes in the areas of disease control, health promotion and human reproduction. Eighty percent of all EBFs received by WHO for assisted activities have been contributed by donor governments, with the top 10 countries (in Europe, North America and Japan) contributing about 90% of this total, whereas the UN funds and the World Bank have donated only about 6% of the total to date. By contrast, about 70% of the regular budget expenditure has been for organisational expenses and for the support of programmes in the area of health systems. Despite the fact that the more successful programmes are heavily reliant on EBFs, there are strong indications that donors, particularly donor governments, are reluctant to maintain the current level of funding without major reforms in the leadership and management of the Organisation. This has major implications for WHO's international role as the leading UN specialised agency for health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Budgets / statistics & numerical data*
  • Financing, Organized / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Promotion / economics
  • Private Sector
  • Public Sector
  • Research Support as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • World Health Organization / economics*
  • World Health Organization / organization & administration