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Global Health and Multilateral Organizations

Multilateral organizations are integral in coordinating and mobilizing global support to achieve global health goals.


Multilateral organizations, particularly the United Nations, are integral in coordinating and mobilizing global support to achieve global health goals. It is only with the unique reach and influence of agencies like the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, World Food Programme (WFP), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Global Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), and the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) that the United States can successfully deliver on its commitments to U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and, in turn, meet overall U.S. strategic health objectives.

By aligning with the SDGs, especially Goal 3 (SDG 3), the U.S. has committed to ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages. This includes ending preventable child deaths; eliminating AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs); and achieving health for all by 2030.

The U.N. and its agencies are integral to achieving U.S. development and foreign policy goals, including the SDGs. For example:

  • UNICEF-procured vaccines reach 45% of the world’s children, saving the lives of an estimated 2.5 million children each year.[1]
  • Following the liberation of Mosul, Iraq, health services were restored by WHO, and a 50-bed, state-of-the-art field hospital was handed off to local authorities after nearly eight months.
  • 2017 WFP programs to prevent and treat malnutrition reached a total of 15.8 million children who were under age 5 and women who were pregnant or breastfeeding.[2]
  • WHO’s ACT-Accelerator leads as a groundbreaking collaborative effort to ensure development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

U.S. contributions to multilateral organizations leverage the support of other countries. Every dollar the U.S. contributes to global health is multiplied by other agency donors, making this form of support a best buy for U.S. taxpayers.


Support full funding for health-related U.N. programming — including WHO, UNICEF, WFP, U.N. Refugee Agency, and UNFPA efforts — in addition to the work of other multilateral partners, such as Gavi, the World Bank, CEPI and the Global Fund. As a percentage of GDP, the U.S. is lagging behind other high-income countries in funding these programs. Encourage the U.S. to pay its fair share, without delay, to ensure these organizations have adequate funding to deliver on their objectives.

Increase the flexibility and consistency of U.S. contributions to U.N. global health initiatives. Additionally, encourage relevant U.S. agencies to simplify funding streams and reduce the level of reporting requirements. When organizations like WHO or WFP are tied up in highly earmarked grants, it hampers their ability to rapidly respond in the face of increasingly complex health challenges or global health crises.

Oppose efforts to defund or in any way undermine the work of multilateral organizations, including the misrepresentation of appropriations riders. Any determinations made by the administration regarding these riders or other policies should be carefully reviewed as part of a fact-based and transparent process.

Ensure high-level representation at global forums, such as the World Health Assembly and U.N. General Assembly, particularly when health-related matters are addressed. Demonstrate the U.S. government’s commitment to achieving SDG 3, as well as to investing in multilateral organizations and working collaboratively with partners to advance global health goals. Advocate for evidence-based recommendations, recognized experts and known best practices.

Photo Credit: Medical IMPACT

Photo Credit: Avel Chuklanov


U.S. support for strong, effective and fully funded multilateral organizations is necessary to meet U.S. objectives for global health. U.S. investments also sustain the vital work of these organizations, bolstering their efforts to eradicate disease, save millions of lives each year and advance U.S. global health priorities in return.

Multilateral organizations help protect American lives and interests by doing the following:

  • Coordinating the global response to disease outbreaks and other health emergencies.
  • Providing prevention, treatment and care services for AIDS, TB, malaria and NTDs.
  • Working to ensure that all children around the world have equitable access to vaccines.
  • Improving maternal health outcomes and access to contraceptives for women.
  • Catalyzing investments from other countries and partners to support programs that improve the health of women, children and adolescents.
  • Facilitating the success of U.S. bilateral programs and amplifying the effects of U.S. investments in global health.
  • Collaborating with U.S. agencies that safeguard the health and security of Americans at home and abroad.

Multilateral agencies such as WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA are uniquely positioned with international credibility, convening power and organizational mechanisms necessary to facilitate and coordinate health work on a global scale. U.S. agencies rely on the extensive networks of these agencies, including frontline health workforces, to access remote or unstable areas, quickly respond to health crises and advance U.S. strategic health initiatives worldwide.

The U.S. relies on the convening power of the U.N. to provide a platform for multilateral health collaboration, which leverages the commitment and financial support of other countries toward shared health threats.

U.S. support for U.N. health agencies also helps the U.S. collaborate with world partners on key health initiatives, enhancing America’s influence and ability to steer the international health agenda.


  • COVID-19 has threatened to reverse progress on the SDGs by redirecting funding, overwhelming health systems and closing businesses and schools.
  • COVID-19 has also disrupted prevention and treatment efforts for AIDS, TB and malaria, threatening the progress that has been made toward SDG 3.
  • Sustained investments in multilateral agencies are required to ensure that the gains advanced through decades of U.S. support to global health are not lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. [3]


  1. Investing for a healthier world: Changing the way WHO is financed
  2. Sustainable Development Goals


Mike Beard, U.N. Foundation,

Shannon Kellman, Friends of the Global Fight,

Philip Kenol, Global Health Technologies Coalition

Jamie Bay Nishi, Global Health Technologies Coalition


[1] “Immunization programme,” UNICEF.

[2] “Nutrition,” World Food Programme.

[3] Hogan AB, Jewell BL, Sherrard-Smith E, et al. “Potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria in low-income and middle-income countries: a modelling study.” The Lancet Global Health. 2020;8: e1132–41.