Italy - Global health

Italy strongly prioritizes health and provides strong support to multilateral health organizations 

In 2020, Italy contributed US$352 million in official development assistance (ODA) to global health, or 10% of its ODA, in line with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average. Italy was the 13th-largest OECD DAC donor to global health in 2020. 

Health was reaffirmed as a strategic priority in the ‘Programming Guidelines and Directions for Italian Development Cooperation 2021-2023,’ with a focus on health systems strengthening (HSS); maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH); non-communicable chronic diseases; communicable diseases; and mental health. 

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As with the rest of its ODA, Italy delivers most of its health ODA multilaterally: 65% in 2020, or US$227 million. Italy is a strong supporter of health multilaterals. Italy hosted the first replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) in Rome in 2005 and has steadily increased its contributions since then. Italy pledged €161 million (US$183 million) during the 2020-2022 replenishment and is expected to contribute to the seventh replenishment in September 2022.

Italy is also the third-largest funder of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi). Italy funds Gavi through all three of its funding mechanisms.

  • Advance Market Commitment (AMC): Italy pledged US$461 million to the COVAX AMC, a mechanism providing market incentives for vaccine makers to develop and produce sustainable and affordable products for neglected diseases, for 2021-2025. COVAX AMC was launched to ensure that low- and middle-income countries will have access to COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • The International Financing Facility for Immunization (IFFIm): Italy is a significant contributor to IFFIm (a financing entity that makes immediate funding available to Gavi) with a pledge of US$207 million for 2021-2025. At the Global Vaccine Summit in June 2020, Italy extended its commitment to IFFIm until 2030.
  • Direct funding: Italy supports Gavi with US$119 million in direct funding for 2021-2025. For the 2016-2020 funding period, Italy contributed €100 million (US$114 million). 

Italy has 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 pledged US$502 million to the ACT-A for the 2020-2022 period, of which US$488 million will go toward vaccines and US$1 million each toward therapeutics, diagnostics, and health systems. Italy is a member of the ACT-A board. 

Italy’s bilateral ODA to health amounted to US$84 million in 2020, corresponding to 9% of Italy’s total bilateral ODA. Within global health, bilateral funding in 2020 focused on COVID-19 control (23% of bilateral ODA), medical services (26%), infectious disease control (11%), and basic health infrastructure (10%), among others. 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 oversees relations with multilateral organizations working on global health, such as the Global Fund. Within the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), the ‘Human Development’ office oversees programs in the health sector.