Italy - Global health

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

In 2019, Italy contributed US$340 million in official development assistance (ODA) to global health, or 8% of its ODA, in line with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average. Italy was the 10th-largest OECD DAC donor to global health in 2019.

Health was reaffirmed as a strategic priority in the ‘Programming Guidelines and Directions for Italian Development Cooperation 2019-2021’, 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: 67% in 2019, or US$226 million. Italy is a strong supporter of health multilaterals. Italy hosted the first replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) in Rome in 2005 and has steadily increased its contributions since then. During the G7 Head of State summit in Biarritz in 2019, Italy announced an early pledge of €161 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). In May of 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 54% of total contributions, Italy is the largest donor with US$185 million alone between 2016 and 2020 to Gavi’s AMC, a mechanism providing market incentives for vaccine makers to develop and produce sustainable and affordable products for neglected diseases. Most recently, Italy was one of the first funders of Gavi’s COVAX AMC with a pledge of US$103 million. 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$101 million for 2016-2020. At the Global Vaccine Summit in June of 2020, Italy extended its commitment to IFFIm until 2030 and pledged an additional €150 million ($168 million).
  • Direct funding: Italy supports Gavi with US$117 million in direct funding for 2021-2025. For the 2016-2020 funding period, Italy contributed US$115 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$116 to the ACT-A (by May 2021) and is slated to be a member of the ACT-A board going forward. Global health also constitutes an overarching priority of Italy’s 2021 G20 presidency with an effective international response to the COVID-19 crisis and pandemic preparedness constituting two specific targets. Italy also co-hosted the G20 Global Health Summit with the European Commission in Rome on May 21, 2021.

Italy’s bilateral ODA to health amounted to US$114 million in 2019, corresponding to 8% of Italy’s total bilateral ODA. Within global health, bilateral funding in 2019 focused on medical services (28% of bilateral ODA), basic health infrastructure (18%) health policy and administrative management (12%), basic health care (11%), basic nutrition (7%), and reproductive health care (7%). 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 the 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, headed by Leone Gianturco, oversees programs in the health sector.