Opening remarks by Dr Margaret Chan at the launch of WHO’s financing dialogue

Dr Margaret Chan
Director-General of the World Health Organization

Geneva, Switzerland
24 June 2013

Honourable ministers, ambassadors, colleagues in public health, partners in financing the work of WHO, our sister UN agencies, ladies and gentlemen,

A very warm welcome to all of you. This is the first-ever financing dialogue, and this will be a learning experience for all of us.

Last month, the Health Assembly approved the programme budget for 2014– 15. This was another first: the first time that Member States considered and approved a budget in its entirety, covering funds from assessed contributions but funds from all other sources as well.

The aim of the present meeting, and of a follow-up meeting to be held at the end of November, is to ensure that the agreed programme budget is fully funded. A good overview of the real money that will be coming in is a prerequisite for good management.

WHO will operate more efficiently and more effectively when we can see the funding gaps and make appropriate adjustments. We expect that the financing dialogue will help us use assessed contributions in the most strategic manner.

All of this helps ensure that core activities will have the funds they need to stay operational. The financing dialogue also responds to the emphasis on transparency and accountability that is part of the overarching process of WHO reform.

To help shape your thinking, WHO will be sharing more detailed information about strengths and weaknesses in the expected flow of funds, gaps, shortfalls, imbalances, and what these mean for the day-to-day work of the Organization and what Member States expect us to deliver. We want to hear more from you about these expectations.

As we get down into more details together, we want to hear your frank views about the challenges you face in reaching our shared goal. That is, predictable funding aligned with the priorities defined by Member States.

This first meeting will also help us know what additional information we need to provide for the follow-up meeting in November. It will identify the actions all of us can take to prepare for that meeting.

On our part, we will start operational planning next month, in a bottom-up process that responds to country-level priorities. This process will establish costed outputs to complement the high-level information you will be receiving today. It will likewise inform our dialogue in November.

Many of you want to come away from today’s dialogue with a better grasp of the overall funding that can reasonably be expected to materialize.

Some donors have come here ready to put the cards on the table. Others are not yet in a position to make their funding commitments public, for good reasons. Still others are concerned about core areas of WHO’s work that have traditionally been underfunded. You want us to think together about what can be done.

My final point is this. You are not under pressure. This is not intended to be a pledging session or a bidding competition. I will not be passing any beggar’s cups around. But of course, if anyone wishes to give us more funds, you are most welcome to do so.

I look forward to this dialogue with great interest as we move ahead, learning together.

Thank you.