A lot of the voluntary contributions that the WHO receives are "earmarked" for a specific purpose (by the donor), specification which sometimes include a certain country in which the money is to be spent.

For example, according to a WHO map, the US Department of Defense is sponsoring WHO program(s) with (just one) specific country earmarked, namely South Korea.

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I'm guessing (but just guessing) that's some kind of monitoring program in case North Korea releases some biowarfare agents in the South.

Is there anymore public information available on this US DoD program executed through the WHO in South Korea?

1 Answer 1


According to the website, the U.S. Department of Defense funds bilateral projects for the following objectives:

  1. Focus on Laboratory response network (LRN) and enhancing collaboration between ROK and DoD labs in Korea.
  2. Focus on data sharing and integrated surveillance, both within ROK and between ROK and US (DoD and CDC)

The same website shows the US also has projects that receive funding donated by ROK. (Bonus: China "donates" to the US through WHO as well)

This is also why it is important to put voluntary contributions to WHO in context since many of those contributions only go through WHO as a facilitator and would be spent or even need to be spent without WHO. This applies to contributions to other international organizations as well, many contributions are strategic spendings for specific purposes, not just good will and good PR.

  • 1
    So the DoD and RoK essentially fund their own programs using each other as bagmen and the WHO as a PR front?
    – Jontia
    Apr 16, 2020 at 6:40
  • @Jontia I would guess (I didn't check) that WHO also gives the projects some support from its general funding since the projects are beneficial to world health (donation matching in someway) as well, and good PR is a bonus at that.
    – xngtng
    Apr 16, 2020 at 11:31

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