Global health is a top priority for Norway’s ODA policy

Norway has been a strong actor in global health over the past ten years. Former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg placed global health on the government’s agenda, and current Prime Minister Erna Solberg has maintained this focus. Norway’s political leadership, diplomacy and economic support are intended to attract new sources of financing for global health.

Norway’s ODA to health stood at US$585million in 2015 and accounted for 14% of its total ODA (DAC average: 9%). Norway has steadily increased its support for health since 2013 (from US$519 million) through increased engagement with health-related multilateral organizations. Norway’s white paper on Global Health in Foreign and Development Policy (2011) outlines three priorities for the sector: 1) mobilizing at an international level for women’s and children’s rights and health, 2) reducing the burden of disease, with an emphasis on prevention, and 3) promoting human security through health.

In September 2016, Norad published a case study on Norway's engagement in global efforts to improve maternal and child health. The report concluded that Norway was highly successful in creating considerable political momentum internationally, which has increased both public and private commitments to maternal and child health globally.

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In 2015, Norway channeled US$352 million (60% of its health ODA, DAC average 55%) to multilateral organizations as core contributions. Key recipients of multilateral ODA to health in 2015 were Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Norway is set to be the second-largest government donor to Gavi after the United Kingdom for 2016 to 2020 (NOK6.25 billion, US$1 billion).

With regards to international commitments, Norway has pledged NOK2 billion (US$304 million) to the Global Fund for 2017 to 2019, and committed US$212 million for 2014 to 2019 to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

Norway's priority countries for bilateral health cooperation:

  • India
  • Malawi
  • Nigeria
  • Tanzania
  • Pakistan

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In September 2014, Norway co-launched the Global Financing Facility (GFF) in support of the ‘Every Woman Every Child’ initiative, in partnership with the World Bank and the governments of Canada and the US. Norway’s initial commitment to the GFF amounted to US$600 million (NOK3 billion) for the 2016-2020 funding period. It pledged an additional US$200 million to the GFF at the Family Planning Summit for 2013 to 2020. In March 2017, Norway announced a contribution of roughly €10 million to the ‘She Decides’ initiative – an initiative launched in response to the cut in funding by the United States to organizations providing abortion-related services.

In 2015, Norway’s bilateral ODA to health amounted to US$234 million (40% of its total health ODA). Almost half of this amount is channeled as earmarked funding through multilaterals (47%; US$111 million), bringing the total amount of health ODA through multilateral organizations to US$462million. Priority areas for bilateral cooperation include reproductive health care (30% in 2015), health systems strengthening (19%), and infectious disease control (11%).

Norway is increasingly connecting health with other areas of development cooperation. For example, it facilitated a resolution on ‘health and the environment’ at the World Health Organization (WHO), which was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2015. The resolution gives WHO a strong mandate to work on mitigating the effects of air pollution on health, and considerably scale up its activities in the area.

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Strategic orientations for global health are set within the MFA

Norway’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, currently represented by Hans Brattskar, is a key actor in the implementation of Norway’s multilateral funding for health. The Mission in Geneva represents Norway at WHO and participates in the governance of global health organizations. Within the MFA, the Department for Economic Relations and Development has a Development Policy Section, which has responsibility for education and global health investments. Aslak Brun heads this section. Bilateral relations are handled by the individual bilateral departments, under the Department of Regional Affairs. Strategic priorities have historically been set by the MFA, however, in January 2017, the MFA’s appropriation letter to Norad articulated that Norad was to take responsibility for global health and education, which had previously been managed by the MFA. The implications of this change are as yet unclear. As a result, however, Norad’s budget has increased for 2017. Norad’s department of global health and education, is in charge of global health under the Director-General of Norad.