Providing proof that the independence of the World Health Organization (WHO) has been severely compromised, a document from the 2018 annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s decision-making body, gives revealing details of where the organization’s funding comes from. During 2017, the total amount of money provided to the WHO by countries was exceeded by that coming from non-state actors, including the pharmaceutical industry. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contributed almost $327 million to the WHO’s General and Fiduciary Funds, making it the second-largest donor overall. The only donations to these funds higher than those of the Gates Foundation came from the government of the United States.
Money donated by countries to the WHO’s General and Fiduciary Funds totaled $1.06 billion in 2017. This was less than the contributions from non-state actors, which amounted to $1.08 billion. Along with the Gates Foundation, other prominent sources of funding included the Brussels EU Commission, which gave over $84 million; the ‘Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’, an organization promoting the use of antiretroviral drugs and other pharmaceutical approaches, which contributed over $16 million; and UNITAID, another organization promoting the use of pharmaceuticals, which gave almost $30 million.
The multinational drug and chemical industries and their investors figure prominently in the lists of WHO donors. Money contributed to the WHO’s General Fund by these sources during 2017 included the following:
|Green Cross Corporation||$294,582|
|Merck Sharp and Dohme Chibret||$1,652,226|
Other prominent WHO donors during 2017 included banks, private foundations with links to the pharmaceutical industry, and the George Soros Open Society Institute.
With the contributions provided to the WHO by the Gates Foundation now exceeding those of every national government on earth apart from the United States, the WHO clearly no longer has any independence in the field of health. Having traded its scientific credibility for funding from business interests, its advice on the prevention and control of diseases cannot be trusted.
The money donated by Gates undoubtedly buys him a lot of attention at the WHO. Illustrating the extent to which he has essentially ‘captured’ the organization, the picture at the top of this article shows him sitting alongside Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General between 2007 and 2017, at a press conference in Geneva. The sway Gates gained over the WHO during Chan’s tenure has led to him being labeled by some as “the world’s most powerful doctor”. As Politico has pointed out, the size of his contributions have brought him an outsized influence on the WHO’s agenda. The first private individual to give a keynote speech at a WHA meeting, Gates’ authority at the WHO is said to be comparable to that of a head of state.
In this situation, it isn’t difficult to imagine that, should Gates ever threaten to withdraw his gigantic funding, the WHO would inevitably bend its policies to suit his will. Indeed, it is said that the appointment in 2017 of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the new Director-General of the WHO was made with Gates’ support.
Clearly, having sold its soul to Gates and other business donors, the WHO no longer represents the interests of patients. The time has therefore come for it to be replaced with a new global body tasked with the goal of making natural preventive health a human right. Achieving this will require the creation of an organization that is truly independent. Avoiding the mistakes of the WHO and its leaders will be essential for such a body to succeed.