WHO scraps forum plan amid cutbacks

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The World Health Organization announced on Tuesday that it is to abandon its proposed World Health Forum project following a meeting to discuss cost-saving reforms.

"The economic downturn has deepened, and this has added urgency to the reform process," director general Margaret Chan told the 34 council members at the opening of the extraordinary meeting, the ATS news agency reported.

"The proposal for a World Health Forum received little support. Therefore we will not pursue this any further," Chan said.

The forum was to have been a new institution bringing together all health bodies, governments, the private sector and non-governmental agencies to improve coordination between them.

The WHO, with a budget this year of $2.2 billion (1.6 billion euros), has said that it expects a 330-million-dollar deficit due to plunging voluntary contributions.

The strong Swiss franc has hit the agency hard as about 75 percent of its income is in dollars.

The UN health agency previously announced the axeing of 300 posts at its headquarters in Geneva this year, reducing the number of staff there to 2,100.

© 2011 AFP

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