January 2012; Volume 31, Issue 1
The Global Financial Crisis Has Led To A Slowdown In Growth Of Funding To Improve Health In Many Developing Countries
Katherine Leach-Kemon, David P. Chou, Matthew T. Schneider, Annette Tardif, Joseph L. Dieleman, Benjamin P.C. Brooks, Michael Hanlon, and Christopher J.L. Murray
Health Aff January 2012 31:228-235; published ahead of print December 14, 2011, doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2011.1154
How has funding to developing countries for health improvement changed in the wake of the global financial crisis? The question is vital for policy making, planning, and advocacy purposes in donor and recipient countries alike. We measured the total amount of financial and in-kind assistance that flowed from both public and private channels to improve health in developing countries during the period 1990–2011. The data for the years 1990–2009 reflect disbursements, while the numbers for 2010 and 2011 are preliminary estimates. Development assistance for health continued to grow in 2011, but the rate of growth was low. We estimate that assistance for health grew by 4 percent each year from 2009 to 2011, reaching a total of $27.73 billion. This growth was largely driven by the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and appeared to be a deliberate strategy in response to the global economic crisis. Assistance for health from bilateral agencies grew by only 4 percent, or $444.08 million, largely because the United States slowed its development assistance for health. Health funding through UN agencies stagnated, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria announced that it would make no new grants for the next two years because of declines in funding. Given the international community’s focus on meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and persistent economic hardship in donor countries, continued measurement of development assistance for health is essential for policy making.