Global Aid For Health Hits Record High, Though Total Aid Dipping

April 8, 2014

International funding for health issues in the developing world continued to increase in the past year, even as overall spending on aid slipped.

Donors from wealthy nations, aid groups, U.N. agencies and other charitable organizations spent $31.3 billion in 2013 on health projects in the developing world, according to a new analysis from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

The numbers, published online Tuesday in the journal Health Affairs, reflect a shifting funding landscape in which nonprofits, public-private partnerships and large foundations — mainly the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — now overshadow the influence of regional development banks and other traditional funders.

Some of the biggest jumps in spending came from issue-focused agencies.

The GAVI Alliance, for example, which supports vaccination, disbursed $1.5 billion in 2013 — 32 percent higher than the year before.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria boosted its distributions by roughly 17 percent, pouring $4 billion in to programs primarily in Africa.

While the U.S. government continues to be the largest donor for all types of development assistance globally, American spending on international health declined by almost $1 billion — from $8.3 billion in 2012 to $7.4 billion in 2013.

The increase overall in global health spending is significant because it comes at a time when other forms of international aid are in retreat.

Throughout the recent economic downturn, giving by rich nations for development in low and middle-income countries has steadily declined. (The notable exception is the United Kingdom, which is boosting assistance to try to reach a U.N. Millennium Development Goal of allocating 0.7 percent of gross domestic product to international aid by the year 2015.)
Here’s a cool interactive graphic on international aid that lets you compare trends in giving by country:

The new analysis finds that the big losers down the road could be middle-income countries such as Mexico, India and Brazil, as donors focus more of their resources on the poorest of the poor.

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