Global health funding slows amid financial concerns

A roundtable discussion at GAVI's Matching Fund breakfast meeting--Courtesy of GAVI Alliance/Tanja Demarmels

Facing pressure to cut budgets in light of worldwide financial concerns, governments and entities that provide global health development assistance increased spending only 2.5% to $28.1 billion last year. That's down from an expansion pace of 11% per year from 2001 to 2010, according to an Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) report.

But increased spending from the GAVI Alliance, a vaccine funder backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations Children's Fund, helped compensate for lower contributions from the United States, France and Germany. The organization spent an estimated $1.76 billion in 2012 on public health, a 41.9% increase over 2011.

Development assistance for public health hit a global high of $28.2 billion in 2010. Since then, the GAVI Alliance and UNICEF have been buoying the field as other donors decrease spending.

"There were predictions that the sky was going to fall on global health funding, but that didn't happen," said IHME director and report co-author Dr. Christopher Murray in a release. "Only time can tell whether the stagnation will continue, but the global health community needs to be prepared either way."

The United States contributes the most to global health funding and last year cut spending 3.3%. France and Germany also slashed spending 13% and 9.1%, respectively.

GAVI, though, entered 2013 with a bang, landing $12.5 million in new commitments from partners in late January. Comic Relief, LDS Charities and Vodafone all contributed funds, which the U.K. government and the Gates Foundation matched through the GAVI Matching Fund. The pledges bring the total amount of the funding initiative launched in 2011 to $78 million.

Founded in 2000, GAVI has immunized more than 370 million children.

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