UPDATE 1-WHO donors reach preliminary deal on budget overhaul

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By Emma Farge

GENEVA, April 28 (Reuters) – World Health Organization members agreed this week to gradually raise their mandatory fees starting from 2024, three sources following the talks told Reuters on Thursday, as part of a funding review seen as vital to the UN health agency’s future .

Reforming the 74-year old agency’s funding model is a priority for Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as he aims to remodel it to respond to the growing risk of more pandemics. Currently, the body relies heavily on voluntary contributions from governments and private donors which are often earmarked for specific programmes, leaving it with insufficient flexibility.

“There’s a basic agreement and there is a timeline and conditions,” said one of the sources. “It’s a very good day for global health,” he added.

The agreement is in the form of a recommendation and still needs to be given formal approval by governments at the World Health Assembly next month.

The WHO did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The compromise reached late on Wednesday envisages mandatory fees reaching 50% of the budget by the 2028-2029, or possibly 2030-31. The funding reforms have been discussed over the past year and a half and the compromise deal, which is contingent on certain conditions, was watered down from earlier proposals due to opposition from some member states.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Catherine Evans and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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