Global health R&D is not yet a strategic priority; limited funding focuses on vaccine development and typhoid

Funding by the South Korean government for global health R&D is low: South Korea invested US$530,000 for research and development (R&D) on poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs) in 2016, referred to as ‘global health R&D’ in this profile. This level of funding makes South Korea one of the lowest-ranking donor countries to global health R&D.

In 2015, the Korean Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), a national agency focusing on increasing the competitiveness of the national health industry, provided 63% of the funding for PRNDs, equivalent to US$413,000, mainly to the Seoul-based International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Product Development Partnership (PDP), and the Korean Institute of Tuberculosis. The IVI is dedicated to research in vaccine development and delivery for partner countries. KHIDI investments focus on developing new innovations for diarrheal diseases, typhoid, and paratyphoid fevers.

The second-largest funder of global health R&D in 2016 was SK telecom, a major telecommunications company, which also contributed US$122,000 to the Korean Institute of Tuberculosis. The Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB), a government research institute located in Daejeon, which is dedicated to wide-ranging biotechnology research activities, and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), also make small contributions to the IVI. This contribution represents a low share of the NRF’s overall spending, as its main focus is not on neglected diseases. The NRF is designed to enhance the efficiency and coordination of the national basic research support system. For this reason, it was established in 2009 as a merger of the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation, Korea Research Foundation, and Korea Foundation for International Cooperation of Science and Technology, and is now  under the direction of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

South Korea’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) takes on the lead role for disease control in South Korea. Within the CDC, the Risk Assessment and International Cooperation Division under the Emergency Operations Bureau manages operations in partner countries.