What the United Nations’ health agency spends on travel is enough to make even its most fervent apologist sick.

Airline travel, in some cases, first class, and other accommodations (not exactly on the cheap) cost the World Health Organization about $200 million annually, according to an Associated Press analysis. To put that figure in context, the agency — underwritten in no small measure by Uncle Sam — spent $71 million on AIDS and hepatitis, $61 million on malaria and $59 million on tuberculosis last year.

Indeed, WHO’s mission comes into question when ex-Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, on a trip to Guinea, reportedly stayed in the largest suite at the Hotel Palm Camayenne — at more than $1,000 a night. WHO wouldn’t say who picked up that tab, which sometimes is paid by the host country, according to the AP.

At the height of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, Ms. Chan reportedly spent more than $370,000 on travel. Oftentimes she flew first class, sources told the AP.

In comparison, Doctors Without Borders forbids staffers from booking even business-class flights, a spokesman says. And with about 37,000 aid workers (compared with WHO’s 7,000), the annual travel cost for Doctors Without Borders comes to about $43 million.

Oftentimes the “process” at Turtle Bay takes precedence over the purpose, whether it’s health care or disaster relief. For this, American taxpayers shouldn’t get stuck with the lion’s share of the bill.


(c)2017 The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.)

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