Global health spending is up but at slower pace than during “golden age” of development assistance

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While the Obama Administration has requested the most funding yet for global health in its proposed budget for fiscal year 2017, the request reflects what continues to be a major slowdown of development assistance for health.

Since 2010 total development assistance for health has grown only by one percent per year, compared to an 11.3 percent growth rate per year between 2000 and 2010. Funding for HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and other health responses has remained flat or decreased since 2010 while funding for maternal and child health has been the only health area that has seen growth since 2010.

Dr. Joseph Dieleman

Dr. Joseph Dieleman

Panelists discussed these and other results from a new report on the state of global health financing in 2015 last week at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The seventh annual report from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Financing Global Health 2015, outlines international funding flows for global health areas, including where funding comes from, the intermediary channels it goes through, and where it goes.

In 2015, $36.5 billion was disbursed in global health assistance – an increase of just 0.3 percent over 2014 funding and still less than peak development assistance in 2013 of $38 billion. Of total development assistance for health 36 percent comes from the U.S., making it the largest contributor to global health funding, said Dr. Joseph Dieleman of the IHME, one of the authors of the report. He noted that 18 percent of total health spending is channeled through U.S. agencies.

The report says 57 percent of U.S. funding for global health went towards HIV. Thirty percent of all global health funding went towards HIV control efforts, of which 25 percent went towards treatment, 18 percent went towards health systems strengthening, and 18 percent went towards HIV prevention efforts.

While child and maternal health receive less money, funding is growing at a greater rate than other health areas, with almost a five percent growth rate per year between 2010 and 2015. Funding for HIV has grown a little over one percent per year during the same time period, and funding for tuberculosis and malaria have seen a negative growth rate. Dieleman said between 2000 and 2010, HIV, malaria and TB funding doubled every three years, while now funding doubles every six years.

Dieleman called the period between 2000 and 2010 the “golden age” of global health assistance, with billions going towards meeting the three global health goals set out in the Millennium Development Goals. Of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, in contrast, only one is dedicated towards improving global health.

Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the IHME, said while GDPs are going up, global health spending isn’t, and “huge financing gaps in global health won’t be filled up by current trajectories.”

Click here to access IHME’s interactive website that explores patterns of global health financing flows between 1990 and 2015.

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