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

According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data, the United Kingdom (UK) is the second-largest government donor to global health, after the United States, spending US$2.7 billion on health official development assistance (ODA) in 2015 (the latest year for which full data is available). This corresponds to 16% of the UK’s total ODA in 2015, which was 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$1.4 billion in 2016 prices) 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 2017), of which US$2.8 billion will go to the IFFIm. The UK’s total contributions for the current funding period (2016 to 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.

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$1.5 billion) for the 2017-2019 funding period. About £90 million (US$122 million) of this pledge is contingent on successful implementation of a ten-point performance agreement that was announced in September 2016. Another £200 million (US$270 million) of the 2017 to 2019 contribution is set aside to double private-sector contributions for tackling malaria, with the UK paying £2 for every £1 contributed to the Global Fund by the private sector.

The UK is the second-largest public donor to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). It pledged £300 million (US$405 million) for 2013 to 2018 at the Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi in 2013 but announced in August 2017 an increase to £400 million (US$540 million) and an extension of the contribution to 2020.

At the 2017 London Summit on Family Planning, the UK announced a £45 million (US$61 million) increase of its yearly commitments for women and girls’ access to modern family planning methods, bringing its contributions to an average £225 million (US$304 million) per year from 2017 to 2022, a total of £1.1 billion over five years (US$1.5 billion). At the same summit, the UK announced its first-ever contribution to the Global Financing Facility’s ‘Ever Woman Every Child’ initiative in the amount of £30 million (US$41 million).

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

According to OECD data, US$1.4 billion of the UK’s health ODA in 2016 was allocated as bilateral funding. Bilateral investments focused on reproductive health care (22% of bilateral health ODA), basic health care (14%), medical research (11%), basic nutrition (11%), infectious disease control (11%), health policy and administrative management (10%), and malaria control (9%). The UK is one of the only donor countries for which medical research is a top sub-sector of health investment.

The UK is also an international leader on global health research and development (R&D). It has established a new fund, ‘The Ross Fund’, with capital of £1 billion, or US$1.4 billion for the financial years 2016 to 2020. The fund will be managed jointly by the Department of Health and DFID. The Ross Fund is a way to group the UK Government portfolio of investments to support development, testing, and delivery of new health products related to 1) antimicrobial resistance, including malaria and tuberculosis, 2) neglected tropical diseases, and 3) diseases with epidemic potential, such as Ebola.


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 within the partner countries.