June 28, 2010; Source: The Times of India | This article from the The Times of India asserts that the influence of the Gates Foundation in the World Health Organization outstrips that of the United States government because its direct and indirect donations may add up to more than those of the U.S. In a document released by the WHO secretariat in May, the U.S. contributions were listed at $424.5 million as compared to the Gates Foundation’s $338.7 million.

The author of this piece suggests that the fact that the Gates Foundation funds the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and the Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), both of which, in turn donate to WHO may make this private institution the higher dollar donor and thus more influential.

The author of this piece walks us through additional WHO relationships in which Gates is involved. Says the author, “The allocation of the budget is supposedly determined by World Health Assembly and WHO Regional Committee meetings. But, in practice, say critics, prioritization of health goals and programmes and consequently budget allocation is heavily influenced by big donors and powerful member states. This vulnerability of WHO to donor influence seems inevitable considering the organisation’s increasing dependence on these voluntary contributions.”

We caution our readers that we have not done the math ourselves and have not researched this set of relationships, but are relaying the concern of this author regarding the growing influence of a private institution on world health policy.—Ruth McCambridge