School of Politics and International Relations

UN health agency struggles with travel abuses

21 May 2019

The World Health Organization spent nearly $192 million on travel expenses last year, with staffers sometimes breaking the agency’s own rules by traveling in business class, booking expensive last-minute tickets and traveling without the required approvals, according to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press. WHO’s inability to significantly curb its expenses could undermine its credibility and make it more difficult to raise money to fight health crises, according to Sophie Harman, a Global Health Professor at Queen Mary University of London. She said the problem wasn’t so much the amount that WHO was spending on travel, but how it was being used. “WHO needs to get its own house in order to legitimately go to the international community saying, ‘We need more money for Ebola,’” she said.

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