EU Crisis’ ‘Side Effect’ : Slump in Development Aid for Health

Written by | Monday, February 17th, 2014

The still lingering economic crisis has considerably decreased the amount of EU development assistance devoted to health. The amount of foreign aid for health has stagnated or decreased among all EU’s major donors with the exception of the United Kingdom, according to Action for Global Health, the network of NGOs.
Crisis-hit Spain has logged the biggest decline since 2010 as the country used to give about 0.03 percent of its gross national income (GNI) to health-related development assistance, while the current figure is about 0.022 percent. Germany, although being rather successful economically, spends only about 0.031 percent of its GNI on health-related development issues. France, also battered by the crisis and still weak in terms of manufacturing activity, has provided about 0.045 percent on average since the beginning of the crisis. In contrast, Italy has significantly decreased its annual contribution since 2009 to the current 0.017 – 0.019 percent of its GNI, which makes Rome one of the smallest health donors together with Athens or Lisbon.
On average, international donors allocate about 0.1 percent of their GNIs to health, which turns the EU into a rather small donor. The decreasing amount of aid devoted to health is not a separate issue but goes hand in hand with the overall decline in development aid budgets. According to Bruno Rivalan of “Global Health Advocates France”, the vast majority of EU donors decreases their aid budget mostly due to the domestic consequences of the ongoing crisis. Two years ago, for instance, the overall share of development assistance fell to 0.35 percent and only Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway  and Denmark met the objective of 0.7 percent.
Yet, even these top donors are being increasingly affected by the crisis. For instance, the Netherland, which also belongs to Europe’s most generous donors, has decreased its aid budget for health from 0.094 percent to 0.078 percent of its GNI. The only donor that has not decreased its contributions is the United Kingdom, which has in contrast increased its pro-health budget to 0.1 percent in 2011.

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