ODA Spending

How much ODA does South Korea allocate to global health?

South Korea was the 11th-largest OECD DAC donor to global health in 2022 in absolute terms and 4th-largest relative to its ODA/GNI ratio.

How is South Korean global health ODA changing?

South Korea spent 15% of its ODA on global health in 2022, down from 22% in 2021, according to the OECD DAC. The decrease in health funding is largely due to the decrease in health spending related to the COVID-19 response. Funding levels remain elevated compared to pre-COVID-19 spending.

How does South Korea allocate global health ODA?

Bilateral Spending

88% of South Korean global health funding was channeled via bilateral contributions in 2022, including earmarked funding through multilaterals, which accounted for 34% of global health ODA. South Korea’s bilateral funding, including earmarked funding through multilaterals, decreased slightly between 2021 and 2022 by 5%. The relative percentages of each share changed, with bilateral funding decreasing from 72% in 2021 to 54% in 2022, and earmarked funding through multilaterals jumping from 21% to 34% of global health ODA. This trend points to South Korea’s prioritization of bilateral ODA, while indicating the country’s recent openness and increased interest in multilateralism.

Multilateral Spending and Commitments

Multilateral funding accounted for 12% of total ODA to health in 2022. This figure is well below the DAC average of 34%. However, the South Korean government plans to continue its efforts to be a responsible member of the international community by cooperating with numerous global health initiatives.

On November 21, 2023, South Korean Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs Ki-hwan Kwon met with CEPI Chairwoman Jane Halton. South Korea reaffirmed its plans to expand CEPI collaboration to address future infectious diseases.

South Korea also joined the ACT-A as a Facilitation Council member, providing strategic advice and guidance to ACT-A and is one of eight countries—with the US, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, and Mexico—in the Market Leader Group.

Funding & Policy Outlook

What is the current government's outlook on global health ODA?

On December 13, 2023, the South Korean MOFA co-hosted 2023 Health Cooperation Forum in the Indo-Pacific Region with US Department of State and the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The forum marked the third time that the South Korean MOFA has organized a forum on health cooperation with key partner countries in the Indo-Pacific region. It served as an opportunity for ASEAN and Korean health experts to discuss concrete ways to cooperate on healthcare information, infectious disease crisis response, and health workforce capacity building as one of the key priorities of the KASI.

On December 3, 2023, South Korean 2nd Vice Minister of Health and Welfare Min-soo Park attended the 16th Tripartite Health Ministers Meeting alongside Japan and China to discuss strengthening cooperation in the healthcare sector, including joint response to infectious diseases. The leaders of the three countries adopted a joint declaration, signed a memorandum of health cooperation, and agreed to outline their joint response to public health crises, including future pandemics.

From November 20-21, 2023, South Korea co-hosted the 2nd World Bio Summit with the WHO to discuss building pandemic preparedness and response systems, featuring representatives from national governments, the scientific community, the private sector, and international organizations in the vaccine and biofields.

From November 20-22, 2023, South Korea hosted the first World Health City Forum in partnership with the Incheon city government, Seoul National University, Ewha Womans University, and Yonsei University. Following thorough review and final consensus from the participants, the Incheon Declaration was officially adopted. Its priorities included:

  • Improving equity, fairness, and social justice in the health sector;
  • Strengthening people-centered community care services; and
  • Fostering participatory governance for inclusive health, safety, and resilience.

President Yoon Suk-Yeol signaled that he would strengthen the response system to infectious diseases with the aim of making South Korea a vaccine powerhouse. He has made the commitment to establish a global vaccine hub and expand health R&D in bio-digital and advanced medical care.

South Korea was designated as a WHO Global Biomanufacturing Training Hub, with the aim of strengthening partnerships to support the global COVID-19 response. South Korea committed to providing 3.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as a total of US$200 million in support through COVAX to the AU. This partnership in vaccine development and bioindustry workforce training will boost development cooperation between South Korea and Africa.

Global health is a priority issue in the Mid-term Strategy for Development Cooperation (2021-2025) and has grown in importance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. South Korea adopted the following multipronged approach until 2022:

  • Increasing ODA to health by 11% from KRW425 billion, or US$329 million, in 2022 to KRW473.3 billion, or US$366 million, in 2023;
  • Strengthening support for the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines;
  • Developing the health and medical systems of partner countries;
  • Building the infectious disease response capacity in partner countries by providing training and establishing healthcare facilities; and
  • Enhancing South Korea’s contributions by leveraging the solidarity groups for global health security that it leads in the UN, WHO, and UNESCO as well as building partnerships with CSOs, private sector, research institutions, and philanthropic organizations.

According to the 2024 Annual Implementation Plan, South Korea will expand cooperation in the global health crisis response including prevention and eradication of COVID-19 and three major infectious diseases ( AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria). It will further strengthen ‘strategic partnerships’ for health with the Global Fund, Unitaid, Gavi, and CEPI, with a commitment of KRW23.3 billion, or US$18 million, for global health organizations such as these in 2023. South Korea joined the board of the Global Fund in 2018 and is the Global Fund’s third-largest supplier of diagnostic tests and the sixth-largest supplier of essential health products.

Key Bodies

Global health R&D is also important to addressing many of the global health challenges that disproportionately affect the world’s most disadvantaged people. For more information on how donor countries are supporting global health R&D across three main areas — 1) EIDs; 2) PRNDs; and 3) SRH — read the excellent G-Finder reports and explore the interactive data portal created by Policy Cures Research. Not all funding mentioned in these analyses qualifies as ODA.

Related Publications

Donor Updates in Brief: 2023 OECD Preliminary Data

Japan's revised Development Cooperation Charter: Adapting to contemporary challenges

A Reinvigorated UNGA

Addressing Compounded Challenges, Seeking to Craft Global Solutions

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