The UK is the 2nd-largest donor country to global health; strong support for multilateral instruments

According to OECD data, the UK is the second-largest government donor to global health, after the United States, spending US$3.2 billion on health ODA in 2015. This corresponds to 16% of the UK’s total ODA, which is much higher than the average spent on health ODA by all OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) member countries (9%).

For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

The UK provided half of its health ODA in 2015 (US$1.6 billion) in the form of core contributions to multilateral organizations. Key recipients of the UK’s multilateral health ODA in 2015 were the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), and the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm; see figure). The UK has made substantial funding commitments to a range of multilateral health initiatives. The UK is the largest donor to Gavi, with total commitments of US$6.4 billion (for 2000 to 2029, according to Gavi data as of September 2016), of which US$2.8 billion will go to the IFFIm. The UK’s total contributions for the current funding period (2016-2020) amount to US$2.3 billion (in prices at the time of Gavi’s replenishment conference in January 2015).

For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

The UK is the third-largest donor to the Global Fund, and has pledged £1.1 billion (US$1.7 billion) for the 2017-2019 funding period. DFID has announced a new, performance agreement between the Global Fund and the UK: £90 million of the UK’s funding is contingent on successful implementation of a ten-point performance agreement. In addition, the UK uses part of its commitment to the Global Fund to double private-sector contributions for tackling malaria: the UK will pay £2 for every £1 contributed to the Global Fund by the private sector, up to a maximum of £200 million.

The UK is the second-largest public donor to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and pledged £300 million (US$457 million) for 2013 to 2018 at the Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi in 2013. At the London Summit on Family Planning in July 2012, the UK pledged an additional £526 million (until 2020) for women’s and girls’ access to modern family-planning methods, thereby doubling its annual funding for family planning to £180 million by 2020. In February 2017, the UK announced that it will host the next international Family Planning Summit, in July 2017.

For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

According to OECD data, the remaining 50% (US$1.6 billion) of the UK’s health ODA in 2015 was allocated as bilateral funding. Bilateral investments focused on reproductive health care (23% of bilateral health ODA), basic health care (14%), infectious disease control (12%) family planning (10%), health policy and administrative management (10%), malaria control (9%), and medical research (9%).

The UK is also an international leader on global health R&D. It has established a new fund, ‘The Ross Fund’ (£1 billion, for FYs 2016-20), to be managed jointly by the Department of Health and DFID. The Ross Fund is a way to ascribe the UK Government portfolio of investments to support development, testing, and delivery of new health new health products related to 1) antimicrobial resistance (AMR), including malaria and tuberculosis, 2) neglected tropical diseases, and 3) diseases with epidemic potential, such as Ebola.

More details about DFID’s global health programs can be found on DFID’s Development Tracker. For more details on the UK’s work related to global health research and development, see ‘Deep Dive: Global Health R&D’.


The UK’s priority countries for bilateral cooperation on health:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Sierra Leone

DFID leads on global health policy development

Working with the UK Department of Health and other government departments, DFID leads on the development of UK global health policy and strategy, and is responsible for administering most health ODA funds.  Within DFID headquarters, two units are mainly responsible for global health policy and funding. The ‘Global Funds Department’ manages the UK’s contribution to multilateral health funds and its partnerships with these funds. The Policy Division supports new policy development and provides technical support to country programs. Overall, programming of bilateral health programs is highly decentralized as DFID country offices lead on designing and managing global health programs.