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Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Director-General

Launch of WHO investment case
WHO HQ, Geneva
19 September 2018

Excellencies, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening everyone, my heartfelt thanks to all of you for coming tonight.

This is indeed a historic moment for WHO – our first-ever investment case.

This is the first time we have estimated the results we could achieve and the impact we could deliver with the right resources.

The investment case is based on our new General Programme of Work – our 5-year strategic plan – and spells out the resources we need to deliver the ambitious targets we have set for the next 5 years:
1 billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage;
1 billion more people better protected against health emergencies;
And 1 billion more people enjoying better health and well-being.

That is what we want to achieve over the next 5 years through the world-class normative work and technical know-how that only WHO can deliver. And by making a difference where it matters most – in countries.

That is what we must deliver to keep the world on track for the Sustainable Development Goals.

But to achieve our targets and truly deliver results at country level, we must transform WHO, and we must to transform the way WHO is funded.

That’s what the financing campaign we’re launching tonight is all about: ensuring WHO has the quantity of funding, and the quality of funding, to succeed.

We estimate that with the right resources, WHO could save up to 30 million lives, and add up to 100 million years of healthy living to the world’s population by 2023.

But the benefits go beyond health. We also estimate that these investments could add up to 4% of economic growth in low and middle-income countries.

So how much are we talking about?

The investment case estimates that to achieve our goals, WHO needs 14.1 billion U.S. dollars over the next five years, or about 2.8 billion dollars a year.

Let me put that in context for you. Cigarette sales globally last year were 700 billion U.S. dollars. That’s what people spend every year on health-destroying products.

That’s 250 times more than we are asking for to protect and promote the most precious commodity on earth – human health.

14 billion dollars represents a 14% increase on our base budget over a 5-year period. 

We understand that WHO must be worth the investment. We understand that WHO must be good value for money. We understand that WHO must deliver results.

That’s why, alongside the investment case, we are transforming WHO to make it capable of delivering on its promises, which is an agile WHO.

We’ve set up a new mechanism to measure our success – to ensure a strict model of accountability.  And we have set ambitious targets for savings and efficiencies.

WHO already has many of the ingredients for success. We have the people, the experience, the mandate and the global presence. We need to unlock the potential of all those assets with the finances to match.

But our success also depends on two other key ingredients: political commitment and partnership.

So I’m delighted that colleagues from the UN, Gavi, the Global Fund and the Word Bank are with us tonight. It is our collaborative work which leads to success, for example in the current Ebola outbreak. Thank you for your partnership.

I’d also like to thank Peter Singer, Michelle Boccoz, Dominique Hyde and our entire resource mobilization team for all the hard work they have done over many months to develop this investment case.

But our work is really just beginning. 

Let me leave you with my wishlist for a properly-funded WHO.

My first wish is for flexible funding. More than 70 percent of our budget is earmarked – donors tell us what they want us to use it for.

That means we only have discretion over less than 30 percent of our budget. It means we are not able to match our budget to priorities.

That creates silos and internal competition for funds that makes it more difficult to work as one WHO, and more difficult to deliver results in countries.

So my wish is that our Member States and other donors will increase the proportion of flexible funding they give us. In fact, several countries have started to do that, but we need all countries to commit to flexible funding.

For our part, we are committed to giving our Member States and other donors the transparency and accountability they need to be assured their money is being used effectively and efficiently.

My second wish is for multi-year funding. WHO manages almost 3000 grants, and almost half of all new grants are for amounts less than $500,000 dollars. This creates a huge administrative headache, but the bigger problem is that it creates fragmentation and unpredictability. To deliver results,

WHO needs predictable, multi-year financing, with the flexibility I indicated.

And my third wish is not just for more money, but for a new way of investing in global health.

For too long, WHO has operated an “us and them” model, with the WHO Secretariat on one side, asking for money from the Member States on the other side. This reduces WHO to being a service provider, and reduces the Member States to being our patrons.

Instead, we want a model where there is only “us” – a model in which we mobilise resources together, and we work together towards our shared goals. We have one common agenda, which is the SDGs, and to mobilise resources towards it, there is only us, no us and them.

This is not about only investing in an institution. It’s about investing in people. It’s about investing in a healthier, safer, fairer world.

Thank you to all of you for being here tonight, and for your commitment and support.

Promoting health, keeping the world safe, and serving the vulnerable is not a cost. It’s an investment.

Since I became DG I’ve enjoyed your support over the past year. I know this will continue. Thank you so much for your continued support and help.

Thank you so much.

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