July 13, 2024
International well being financing after COVID-19 and the brand new Pandemic Fund

On November 13, 2022, the Group of 20 (G-20) hosted the official launch of the Pandemic Fund, the brand new World Financial institution Monetary Middleman Fund to advertise pandemic preparedness and response (PPR). At that occasion Priya Basu, the chief head of the Pandemic Fund Secretariat on the World Financial institution, prompt that the fund had solely obtained $400 million of the $1.4 billion pledged by donors (effectively wanting the estimated $10.5 billon that was claimed to be required). Furthermore, when questioned about whether or not substantial new moneys would come into the fund or be diverted from current assist budgets, Basu acknowledged that “this isn’t simply type of shifting cash from one port to a different. That is new cash.”

Nevertheless, evaluation of latest official growth help (ODA) and nationwide stage useful resource administration knowledge reveal some worrying traits that would mood this optimism. These traits recommend that not solely did ODA peak throughout COVID-19, however that sources have been reallocated to COVID-19 and PPR actions on the international and nationwide stage. Moreover, there’s proof that these shifts are exacerbating current well being vulnerabilities and weakening general international well being. If these traits proceed, then there might be appreciable impacts on international well being in addition to international PPR insurance policies and the Pandemic Fund’s means to finance them.

Official Growth Help has peaked and shifted

In Could 2022, the Growth Help Committee of the Group for Financial Cooperation and Growth (OECD DAC) launched its annual knowledge on ODA for well being. Knowledge at the moment are accessible for 2020, the 12 months COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. To permit monitoring ODA for COVID-19 management, the OECD DAC launched a brand new code for reporting COVID-19 ODA.

The info present that in 2020, official donors disbursed $29.1 billion in well being ODA, a considerable improve of 31 p.c (or $6.9 billion) in comparison with the earlier 12 months (all knowledge reported in fixed 2020 costs). Thus in 2020, well being ODA reached its highest-ever stage. Personal flows to well being additionally elevated by 21.6 p.c, from $4.0 billion to $4.9 billion (Determine 1).

Determine 1. Traits in ODA Disbursements for Well being and Personal Flows for Well being  

Figure 1: Trends in ODA Disbursements for Health and Private Flows for Health

Supply: OECD DAC CRS. Gross disbursements, fixed 2020 USD costs 

Donors disbursed a complete of $4.4 billion in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. A considerable share (63.9 p.c) of the rise in well being ODA outcomes from donor funding for COVID-19 management. As well as, ODA for infectious illness management grew from $2.3 billion in 2019 to $3.1 billion in 2020. A lot of this improve might be attributed to assist actions for pandemic preparedness and response, together with for the surveillance, analysis, and the event of COVID-19 vaccines.

Nevertheless, the information additionally reveal areas of concern. Even earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic, most low- and middle-income international locations (LMICs) weren’t on monitor to attain Sustainable Growth Objective 3 (“Guarantee wholesome lives and promote well-being for all in any respect ages”) by 2030. Delivering on SDG goal 3.8—reaching common well being protection (UHC) by 2030—was all the time bold however appears to be like weakened by put up COVID-19 ODA. For instance, ODA for fundamental well being care fell from $3.4 billion in 2019 to $2.3 billion in 2020, a drop of 34.5 p.c. ODA for fundamental vitamin declined by 10.1 p.c. When paired with considerations about donor fatigue within the face of rising international issues (local weather, Ukraine, meals safety, and so on.), the outlook for decreased ODA spending and/or diversions of current funds appears to be like elevated.

Useful resource shifting and its impact on international well being

Past the ODA knowledge, there’s additional proof that the pandemic has exacerbated UHC vulnerabilities through diversions inside nationwide well being budgets of LMICs. Notably from areas similar to malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV to COVID-19 and different PPR associated actions. Furthermore, a examine on Ghana discovered that the COVID-19 pandemic may have an antagonistic impact on the well being financing system in Ghana, together with the anticipated reallocation of presidency funding for the well being sector into COVID-19 associated priorities.

Additional proof reveals that COVID-19 useful resource reallocations are reversing progress on well being outcomes. For instance, proof suggests broader secondary results on well being techniques and outcomes attributable to COVID-19 takes prioritization away from different well being considerations, significantly associated to malaria, tuberculosis, sexual and reproductive well being and HIV, noncommunicable illnesses, and uncared for tropical illnesses. The World Well being Group reported that 43 international locations (together with 13 international locations with excessive tuberculosis burden) used GeneXpert machines for COVID-19 testing as an alternative of diagnostic testing for tuberculosis. As well as, 85 international locations reported the reassignment of employees in tuberculosis to COVID-19 associated duties, whereas 52 international locations confirmed reallocation of tuberculosis budgets to COVID-19 actions. There may be additionally appreciable proof that medical personnel are being reassigned from different well being subsystems to COVID-19 associated actions. Within the case of Indonesia, the diversion of human sources to pandemic response efforts disrupted polio immunization providers, placing the nation’s polio-free standing in danger.

The prospects don’t look good—for the Pandemic Fund or international well being

There may be good purpose to imagine {that a} concentrate on COVID-19 and PPR is pulling sources from UHC with wider well being consequence results. This raises concern that diminished ODA, alongside finances reallocations for elevated PPR exercise, will improve burdens on already strained well being techniques whereas decreasing funds accessible for brand spanking new initiatives (alternative prices). There are additionally indicators that international well being donors might additional scale back their well being assist, falling again into a standard sample in international well being financing—the “cycle of panic and neglect.” This situation will exacerbate vulnerabilities and well being outcomes. Furthermore, it will undermine the credibility and sustainability of the Pandemic Fund as current cash is diverted whereas new cash stays scant.

This underscores the necessity for sustainable long-term funding not solely to be effectively ready for the following outbreak, but additionally to assist well being system strengthening and inhabitants well being. Because the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed, it’s a lot costlier to reply amid a disaster than to correctly put money into international well being, together with in sturdy and resilient well being techniques.