Health is a key thematic area of Dutch development policy
The Netherlands’ ODA to global health stood at US$592 million in 2015 or 8.5% of its total ODA (Donor Assistance committee (DAC) average: 9%), making it the eleventh-largest DAC donor to global health. The sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) budget line (which also includes all other ‘general’ global health spending, such as funding to WHO), is projected to stand at €415 million (US$550 million) in 2017, and to remain stable in the coming years.
Over half (52% or US$307 million) of total Dutch health ODA in 2015 was channeled as multilateral ODA, slightly below the DAC average of 55%. Key commitments to health included pledges to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) (€250 million or US$300 million) for 2016‐2020. This included €180 million in direct contributions and €10 million for the Gavi Matching Fund (GMF), a public-private funding mechanism that aims to incentivize private sector investments in immunization. €60 million was also provided through the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm), a long-term financing entity that makes immediate funding available to Gavi for immunization programs by issuing ‘vaccine bonds’ in the capital market. In addition, US$8 million was carried over from a previous IFFIm pledge, bringing the total Gavi pledge from the Netherlands for 2016‐2020 to US$308 million. The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) was also a main recipient of Dutch multilateral ODA for health, with a €156 million or US$195 million contribution for 2017 to 19. Yearly contributions to the Global Fund have been lowered by €3 million a year, in favor of supporting civil society organizations (CSOs) working in the fields of SRHR and HIV/AIDS. However, in November 2016 a motion was adopted to increase the Global Fund pledge by €10 million (US$12 million), using funds previously allocated to international organizations that don’t perform well. As of March 2017, the motion had not yet resulted in a disbursement to the Global Fund.
Bilateral health ODA stood at US$285 million in 2015, accounting for 6% of total Dutch bilateral ODA (just under the DAC average of 7%). Reflecting the Dutch policy focus on SRHR, bilateral health funding also focuses on reproductive health care (51% of bilateral health ODA, or US$145 million in 2015).
The Netherlands strongly supports CSOs active in the field of SRHR. Funding for SRHR for 2016 to 2020 will most prominently continue under the ‘SRHR Partnership Fund’ (€215 million or US$285 million; a total of €43 million, or US$57 million annually). This Fund is a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and seven Dutch CSOs. In response to the planned cuts in US funding to CSOs that support access to or provide information about safe abortion, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, launched the global initiative ‘She Decides’ in January 2017 to support organizations that focus on SRHR and family planning. At the ‘She Decides’ ministerial conference in March 2017 in Brussels, governments, private foundations, and individuals pledged a total of €181 million (US$240 million), including €10 million (US$13 million) from the Netherlands. In addition, the €3 million a year that has become available as a result of the reduction in Global Fund funding (see above) will go to support CSOs working on service integration and education related to SRHR and HIV/AIDS.
The Health and AIDS Division is responsible for development policy on health
Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) is responsible for designing and coordinating the implementation of Dutch development policy. Within DGIS, the “Social Development Department” (DSO) develops policies and strategies related to health, education, gender, civil society, and research. Within DSO, the health and AIDS division (DSO/GA) is responsible for the policy on SRHR, including health systems and HIV/AIDS.