Health Assistance to Developing Countries Soars

Elena Marszalek and Sarah London | Nov 12, 2009

After years of stagnation, health assistance from industrial to developing countries has risen sharply over the past decade, setting a record in 2007 of nearly $10 billion.1 Official development assistance (ODA) for health from key members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2000 was nearly three times as high as the average of roughly $3 billion in the late 1970s, when adjusted for inflation.2 (See Figure 1.) The share of health-related ODA in relation to other ODA sectors has also risen, from slightly more than 5 percent in 1980 to nearly 8 percent in 2007.3

OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) includes 23 countries (effectively, all advanced industrial economies) and the European Commission. Just a handful of these countries contribute the bulk of funding for health-related ODA. In 2005 and 2006, the three countries with the largest average bilateral ODA commitments for health were the United States ($3.9 billion, in 2006 dollars), the United Kingdom ($1.4 billion), and the Netherlands ($503 million).4

Multilateral and private donors are also playing a large role. Since its establishment in 2002, for example, the multilateral Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has mobilized and allocated $15.6 billion to prevent and treat these three conditions in over 140 countries.5 Its expenditures currently account for 47 percent of all multilateral health ODA in the world’s least developed countries.6 The private Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has allocated more than $11.7 billion to global health since its inception in 1994.7

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