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The World Health Organization is a special agency of the United Nations. It is therefore funded primarily by contributions from member states of the UN.

There are two types of contributions. Assessed contributions are paid directly by the governments of member states out of central funds and are set according to the population and average income of the state in question. In recent years, assessed contributions have constituted a fairly small proportion of overall revenue (18% in 2016–17, for instance).

The WHO's main source of revenue, however, has been from voluntary contributions. These are also mainly provided by member states, though not usually directly sourced from central government funds. They can also come from organizations and individuals. Some of the non-state funding comes from supra-national bodies, such as the European Union, while some is provided by philanthropic organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In the latter case, funds are often earmarked for a particular program or location in which the organization takes a special interest.

The United States of America is, by some distance, the largest contributor to the WHO in terms of both assessed and voluntary contributions. The USA's assessed contribution has, for many years, been set at 22% of all state contributions. It has been stable in recent years, fluctuating only slightly between $107 and $114 million dollars from 2010 to 2017. Voluntary contributions have been much less stable, varying between a low of $102 million in 2014 and a high of $401 million in 2017.

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The WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations (defined as "international organization(s) that coordinate their work with the United Nations through negotiated agreements"). As such, the WHO is legally independent of the United Nations and thus has a separate budget, members, rules, and personnel (see source 1).

Funding for the WHO (i.e. revenue) is comprised of four primary sources: assessed contributions, voluntary contributions, contributions in-kind and in-service, and reimbursable procurement, concessions, revolving sales, and other exchange revenue.

Assessed contributions come directly from member states and associate member in the form of membership dues, and they are calculated relative to the member state's wealth and population.

Voluntary contributions are additional contributions outside of the assessed contributions and come from both member states and independent third parties (i.e. the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation).

Contributions in-kind also come from either member states or other contributors and are, by definition, non-cash contributions. The WHO splits in-kind contributions into three categories: medical supplies and materials, office space and field supplies, and in-service.

Finally, reimbursable procurement pertains to medicines, vaccines, equipment, and other supplies procured by WHO on behalf of member states and other UN agencies (all above information was sourced from the WHO's audited financial statements for CY2018).

At a high level, for CY2016, the revenue breakdown is as follows:

  1. Member States—51%
  2. Philanthropic Foundations—17%
  3. UN intergovernmental organizations and development banks—5%

Partnerships, NGOs, private sector entities, and academic institutions comprise the balance (see source 3 for infographics containing this information).

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