IHME Report Suggest “End of an Era” for Health Assistance, but MNCH Funding Continues to Grow

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By: Sarah Blake, MHTF consultant

Last week, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) released, Financing for Global Health: The End of the Golden Era? its fourth annual report analyzing trends in Development Assistance for Health (DAH) from 1990 through 2009, with estimates through 2011.

From the report:

In this year’s report, IHME built on its past data collection and analysis efforts to monitor the resources made available through development assistance for health (DAH) and government health expenditure (GHE). It confirms what many in the global health community expected: After reaching a historic high in 2010, overall DAH declined slightly in 2011, with some organizations and governments spending more and others spending less.

One of the areas where there has been an increase in spending is the overall area of maternal, newborn and child health, including family planning. In a chapter devoted to outlining investments by health area, the authors point out that while MNCH investments have not increased as dramatically as other areas, such as HIV/AIDS, increases have been steady, and, indeed, continued to grow since 2009, even as funding for other health issues has declined.

The authors attribute this increase to some specific sources:

The Every Woman Every Child initiative has received over $20 billion in commitments since its inception in 2010. In 2012, the London Summit on Family Planning also succeeded in mobilizing billions of dollars for MNCH. The debut of the spending associated with Every Woman Every Child and other maternal and child health initiatives is manifested in MNCH growth rates. In 2010, UNICEF spending on MNCH jumped 60.9% (the response to the earthquake in Haiti and the floods in Pakistan also contributed to this rise). MNCH DAH disbursements also grew significantly for the UK (38.8%). Other actors engaged in supporting MNCH also increased the DAH provided for the sector. A surge in funding for the WHO’s programs on MNCH (8.5%) as well as US bilateral (9.4%) and UNFPA support (2.3%) bolstered sector-wide growth.

The report goes on to point out that the increased investments over the years have coincided with a decline in the proportion of the global burden of disease attributed to MNCH-related issues. In other words, these investments are paying off. This success makes the news that the European Union (EU) moved Friday to cut investments in global health and development overall particularly troubling. These cuts, which will affect the EU’s investments over the next seven years mark the first decrease in EU funding for international assistance in its history. While it is not quite clear what current investments will be affected most, some reports suggest that family planning programs are a likely target for cuts, a move that could hinder efforts to improve the health of women and children around the world.

To read more, check out the full IHME report here, and NPR’s coverage of the report here.