A few years ago, during his very first visit to United Nations in September 2017, the then newly elected President of United States, Donald Trump, said, “In recent years the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement, while the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 per cent and its staff has more than doubled since 2000.”
The UN and its sister organizations have a huge budget, most of which they spend on the inefficient and ineffective staff. And therefore, the organization has been severely criticized in the last few years for its inefficiencies.
Bureaucracies are hated by the left and right alike, as the primary aim of the bureaucratic set up is to maintain the status quo. As Prime Ministers Modi pointed out in a lecture to civil servants a few years ago, bureaucrats slowly become more focused on ‘processes than ‘outcome’. And this works as decelerator to the productivity of any organization. And this is the reason that the overtly bureaucratic organizations like the United Nations, the European Union are falling apart.
The same is true for WHO, the health arm of the UN, which has been criminally incompetent in the fight against Coronavirus disease. WHO is supposed to provide medical supplies and materials to poor nations to aid them in the fight against viral diseases such as AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
But as the annual report 2018, the organization spends 8 per cent on staff travel, 40 per cent on staff cost, and just 4 per cent on medical supplies. “Of total travel expenditure, only 45% was for staff travel, the rest was incurred for non-staff travel, mainly for meeting participants nominated by Member States,” states the annual report 2018 of WHO.
And 2018 is not a unique year in which the expenditure suddenly jumped. As per the report by Associated Press, the incompetent organization regularly spends more than 200 million dollars on staff travel. WHO “routinely has spent about $200 million a year on travel expenses, more than what it doles out to fight some of the biggest problems in public health, including AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined,” reported AP in 2017.
In fact, WHO is so inefficient that more than half of its total expenditure goes to recurring expenses and less than one fourth on medical supplies, transfer and grants, to poor countries fighting from diseases such as AID, Malaria.
The organization spend millions of dollars on its overfed lethargic bureaucracy which does not even have to pay taxes, as the staff from the UN, and its sister bodies is tax-exempt in all countries.
The leaders across the world have now started raising questions over the incompetence of UN bureaucracy. After he was elected, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted: “The UN has such great potential,” but had become “just a club for people to get together, talk, and have a good time. So sad!”
WHO staffers from countries like India argue that the organizations could not justify its travel expenses. “When you spend the kind of money WHO is spending on travel, you have to be able to justify it,” Dr Ashish Jha, director of the Global Health Institute at Harvard University, said. “I can’t think of any justification for ever flying first class.”
WHO proved criminally incompetent in fight against Coronavirus disease. Since the very first stage of the outbreak, the organization looked compromised and dancing on Chinese direction. After the outbreak, WHO tweeted on January 14 that human to human transfer of virus is not possible, despite the fact that Chinese scientists published the contrary in journals.
It also praised Communist government of China over the efforts to contain the virus, and now the world knows that ‘shoot the messenger’ attitude to Chinese government cost thousands of lives and lakhs of sick people.
The lethargic bureaucracies are criticized by powerful leaders of left and right alike because they are resistant to change in the midst of this fast-changing world. Bureaucracies are always status-quoists. And given the fact status-quo of WHO is ‘criminally incompetent’, a fundamental reform in the WHO is need of the hour once we get out of this epidemic.
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