Candidate for UN health chief eyes global tax to help WHO

A French diplomat competing to be the world’s top health official says a tiny international tax can help fill the World Health Organization’s coffers, a proposal aimed at bringing order to the U.N. agency’s fragmented budget.

Dr. Philippe Douste-Blazy told journalists at the Foreign Ministry in Paris that “micropayments” tacked on to as-yet-undetermined international business operations could support WHO’s budget.

“I’m persuaded that innovative financing can play a role in the support of WHO,” he said.

Douste-Blazy’s proposal may sound unusual but it isn’t unprecedented. UNITAID, a group Douste-Blazy chairs, is partly funded through an air ticket levy imposed in 10 countries, including South Korea and France. The organization uses the money to champion the development of cheaper drugs for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

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