Italy - Global health
At a glance
Health is one of Italy’s development priorities; it provides strong support to multilateral health organizations
In 2016 (latest year for which full data is available), Italy contributed US$289 million in official development assistance (ODA) to global health. This was a 10% increase compared to the country’s 2015 contributions. Italy’s ODA to global health remains relatively low: Italy was the 11th-largest donor to global health in 2016 in absolute terms and the 19th-largest donor in relative terms, compared to other members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC).
Health has been a priority for Italy’s development policy in the past and has been reaffirmed as a strategic priority in the ‘Programming Guidelines and Directions for Italian Development Cooperation 2017-2019’. Within health, the guidelines place a focus on health system strengthening (HSS); maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH); non-communicable chronic diseases; communicable diseases; and mental health. Italy’s recent initiatives in the global health sector include instituting a global day against infantile diarrhea. Diarrhea is the second main cause of death among children under five. However, the initiative has been deprioritized due to the COVID-19 crisis.
As with the rest of its ODA, Italy delivers most of its health ODA multilaterally: 75% in 2016, or US$204 million. Italy is a strong supporter of health multilaterals. It has been contributing to the Global Fund since its founding and hosted the first meeting of donors to replenish the Global Fund’s resources in Rome in 2005. Since then, Italy has steadily increased its contributions and in August 2019 during the G7 Head of State summit in Biarritz, Italy announced an early pledge of €160 million (US$178 million) for the next replenishment period of 2020-2022 (an increase of 15% from €140 million or US$155 million pledged in 2016). Additionally, in May 2020, at the Coronavirus Global Response Conference, Italy pledged an additional €500,000 (or US$590,000) to the Global Fund for its direct response to COVID-19.
Italy is also a major funder of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi). Italy funds Gavi through all three of its funding mechanisms.
- Advance Market Commitment (AMC): With nearly 50% of total contributions, Italy is the largest donor (US$265 million between 2016 and 2020) to Gavi’s AMC, a mechanism that provides market incentives for vaccine makers to develop and produce sustainable and affordable products for neglected diseases. Most recently, Italy was one of the initial funders of Gavi’s COVAX AMC (US$103 million). This is a mechanism that Gavi has launched to ensure that low- and middle-income countries will have access to a COVID-19 vaccine once it has been developed.
- The International Financing Facility for Immunization (IFFIm): Italy is a significant contributor to the IFFIm, a financing entity that makes immediate funding available to Gavi (US$101.6 million or 7.4% of total IFFIm funding between 2016 and 2020). At the Global Vaccine Summit in June 2020, Italy has extended its commitment to IFFIm until 2030 and pledged an additional €150 million ($177 million) for this period.
- Direct funding: In addition, Italy supported Gavi with US$114.3 million in direct funding for 2016 to 2020, its first-ever direct contribution (1.6% of total contributions). More recently, at the EU's Coronavirus Global Response pledging conference, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte pledged €120 million (US$133 million) in direct contributions to Gavi.
Italy has also shown strong support for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) which supports the development and equitable distribution of diagnostics, vaccines, and treatments globally.
Italy’s bilateral ODA to health amounted to US$121 million in 2018 (latest year for which bilateral data is available), corresponding to 5% of Italy’s total bilateral ODA. This represents a slight decrease compared to US$131 million in 2017. Within global health, bilateral funding in 2018 focused on medical services (40% of bilateral ODA), health policy and administrative management (10%), basic healthcare (9%), and basic nutrition (8%). Contributions to global health research and development (R&D) have been low compared to other donors (for more details, see Sector: ‘Global Health R&D).
DGCS defines priorities within global health
Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation (MAECI), the Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS) defines Italy’s priorities around global health. Relevant departments include the Deputy Minister’s cabinet, geographic departments, and the unit on multilateral development cooperation, which is in charge of relations with multilateral organizations working on global health, such as the Global Fund. Within the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the office in charge of programs in the health sector is the ‘Human Development’ office. It is currently headed by Leone Gianturco.