World Health Day 2015: A Preview of Health ODA Performance by European Donors

This World Health Day, Action for Global Health (AfGH) has once again found that European donors are failing to reach health ODA targets, and have not been able to reach even half of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) minimum requirements of 0.1% of Gross National Income (GNI).  As a result, Europe’s biggest economies are unable to realise the Health MDGs set for 2015.

Each year, AfGH provides a robust and in-depth analysis through a rigorous, sector-by-sector report on OECD-published disaggregated data on ODA. According to our preliminary data for 2013, traditional European health champions - Luxemburg (0.184%), Norway (0.143%), Sweden (0.117%) and the UK (0.139%)- have all reached an allocation above 0.1% of GNI for health determined by the WHO as the minimum required to deliver basic health services for all. EU Institutions’ health ODA in 2013 almost reached $US 1.1 billion, with an increase of $US 117 million from 2012.  For now, the worrying trend of decreasing health ODA over the past few years, including amongst key donors seems to have been halted.

Although we cannot yet talk about a ‘renaissance’, we commend countries, like the UK, for their commitment to health which led to a substantial increase in its health ODA in 2013, in both volume and as a percentage of GNI - from US$ 2.9 billion to US$ 3.5 billion (0.119% to 0.139%). This has made them the second largest donor in terms of volume after the United States and the third largest as percentage of GNI after Luxemburg and Norway.

France and Germany, as two of the largest European economies, also increased their contributions to health ODA in terms of volume in 2013 (reaching 0.047% and 0.030% of GNI respectively). However the increase is mainly due to bilateral loans, over US$ 120 million in the case of France, and equity investments in pharmaceuticals in Africa, in the case of Germany.  Italy and Spain managed to reverse the downward trend of previous years with an increase to 0.017% and 0.015% of GNI respectively.

European development ministers have reviewed ODA targets and timetables, and on 24 and 25 April, Ministers of Finance will review their funding commitments. AfGH calls upon all European leaders to recommit to Health ODA, especially in the build-up to the Third Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa.  If the EU commit to health ODA it would strengthen its negotiation position with other stakeholders in the run-up to the conference.  Investing in global health is not only a human rights responsibility; it is a smart investment: every €1 invested in health can produce up to €20 in full-income growth within a generation.

*** AfGH will publish a detailed report revealing the real performance of European donors on health ODA in May, which will look at both volume of ODA and its disaggregation, as well as making public the investigation of the use of various funding channels. ***

For more information, visit the AfGH website or contact the AfGH coordination team.  For more information on the research findings, contact Marco Simonelli, Aidos.