Approximately $200 million goes towards WHO staff travel, according to media reports. This would mean WHO’s travel costs are higher than its actual spend on malaria, TB and HIV/Aids interventions around the world, according to the Associated Press.
Stat News has reported that since 2013, the organisation’s spent $803 million on travel. It went on to say that in 2016, its spend on HIV/Aids and hepatitis interventions amounted to $71 million, while it spent $61 million on combatting malaria and $59 million on tuberculosis. On the other end of the spectrum, however, the news outlet has reported that diseases such as polio ($450 million in 2016) still receive a substantial budget.
Some media reports have attributed the spend to staffers booking costly business class flights and five-star hotel accommodation. The New York Post reported that WHO Finance Director Nick Jeffreys said at a 2015 seminar: “We don’t trust people to do the right thing when it comes to travel.”
According to reports, Director-General Dr Margaret Chan had stayed in the presidential suite at the Palm Camayenne hotel in Guinea, which cost $1 008 a night, and spent $370 000 on travel in a single year. In response to inquiries regarding her stay, the organisation is said to have highlighted that host countries at times paid for hotel accommodation.
“The nature of WHO’s work often requires staff to travel,” a statement to the Associated Press read. It went on to add that there had been a 14 per cent decrease in spend when compared to the previous year, which saw substantial expenses incurred as a result of the West African Ebola outbreak in 2014.