Private giving boosting funding for global health, but inequitably distributed

Alliance magazine

Funding has soared for global health, largely because of unprecedented levels of private giving, of which the Gates Foundation is one but not the only example, says a new study. However, the study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) also finds that the funding is unevenly distributed and that 12 of the 30 countries with the highest incidence of disease are not receiving as much as healthier, and sometimes wealthier, countries. Funding for health in developing countries has quadrupled over the past two decades from $5.6 billion in 1990 to $21.8 billion in 2007, with private donors providing 30 per cent of the 2007 figure, reports Financing of global health: tracking development assistance for health from 1990 to 2007.

However, while Sub-Saharan Africa receives the highest concentration of funding, some African countries receive less aid than South American countries with lower disease burdens, such as Peru and Argentina, and 12 of the 30 low- and middle-income countries with the most illness and premature death, including Angola, Ukraine and Thailand, do not figure in a list of countries that receive the most health aid, while two of the world’s emerging economic super powers, China and India, receive huge amounts. Some small island nations with relatively healthy populations, including Micronesia and the Solomon Islands, receive more health aid per capita than disease-stricken countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso.

There are also anomalies in which element of healthcare the money goes to. Based on the research for 2007, HIV/AIDS receives at least 23 cents out of every dollar, while tuberculosis and malaria receive less than a third of that, even though the combined burden for those diseases is greater than that from HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Similarly, only around 5 per cent of every dollar goes to system-wide health support, like funding for new clinics, training doctors and prevention programmes, an area that global health experts have clearly identified as a priority.

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