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Update: Private funding of the world’s public health agency

A robust debate continues over at the journal Foreign Affairs — over how much the World Health Organization is depending on private sources of funding these days.

Last week, we highlighted a critique written by journalist Sonia Shah. That prompted some thoughtful exchanges over on Humanosphere’s Facebook page.

Now, Foreign Affairs has a rebuttal called “Setting the record straight …” from the WHO’s communications director Christy Feig, who says Shah made a number of “erroneous statements”:

“To set the record straight: Eighty percent of WHO’s budget now comes from governments.”


“For the entire year, just one percent came from private industry. And roughly half of that comprised a specific donation from local organizations in Japan to finance costs of a WHO office in Kobe. The other half came from pharmaceutical companies that directed their funds toward neglected and tropical diseases.”

Shah offers a rebuttal to the rebuttal, on the same page, which emphasizes that Shah gave herself wiggle room by using the phrase, “private interests and others”

“The others are primarily the United States and the Gates Foundation, both of which have deep connections to the private sector and have used their influence to represent its interests.”

Check out the full article.


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