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WHO Spends More On Travel Than On Fighting Diseases, Report Says

Photo from WHO

The World Health Organization is under fire, after a report stated that the agency spends millions of dollars on travel costs – much more than the budget for fighting some of the world’s biggest health problems.

The United Nations agency disburses around $200 million a year on travel costs, allowing its heads and directors to fly business class and stay in five-star accommodations, the New York Post reports. This is a larger expenditure than what the WHO spends on issues like fighting AIDS.

Last year, the WHO spent: $71 million on AIDS and hepatitis, $61 million on malaria, $59 million on tuberculosis. The agency does have a generous $540 million allotment for polio every year.

On the other hand, the agency’s director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan, blew a total of $370,000 in travel bills in one year. That included a stay at a hotel in Guinea that cost $1,008 a night, AP reports.

WHO finance director Nick Jeffreys was caught saying,

We don’t trust people to do the right thing when it comes to travel,

during a 2015 seminar.

Now, the agency continues to ask for more money to fight diseases, and taxpayers are the ones contributing to its funds. UN member countries foot the WHO’s yearly budget of $2 billion, with the USA te largest contributor.

The agency defended its travel budget, saying that “the nature of WHO’s work often requires WHO staff to travel.” It added that travel costs were reduced by 14% last year, although that came on the heels of an expensive Ebola outbreak in 2014.

Other aid agencies are able to fly their staff around the world on smaller budgets, however. The UN’s children’s arm, UNICEF, spends $140 million a year on travel and has twice the number of staff members. Doctors Without Borders bans business-class travel and spends $43 million a year, even with five times more staff than WHO, the report argues.


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