Netherlands - Global health

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The Netherlands is the seventh-largest donor to health and contributes 10% of total ODA to the sector

The Netherlands’ total official development assistance (ODA) to health in 2019 was US$540 million, making it the seventh-largest Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor to health. Health ODA made up 10% of total Dutch ODA in 2019, putting the Netherlands slightly above the DAC average of 8% and making it the eighth-largest donor in relative terms. Of the US$540 million in ODA to health in 2019, 45% was made up of core contributions to multilaterals, 19% was earmarked funding to multilaterals (reported as bilateral funding), and the remainder (37%) was provided bilaterally.

Bilateral health ODA fell by 17%, from US$239 million in 2018 to US$199 in 2019. The decrease was primarily driven by cuts in funding to the subsectors of basic nutrition, sexually transmitted disease (STD) control (including HIV/AIDS), and health policy and administrative management. Although the SRHR sectors took some cuts in 2019, bilateral health funding strongly focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), in line with the Netherlands’ policy priorities.  In 2019, over half of all bilateral health funding went to reproductive health care (58%). This was followed by population policy and administrative management (11%), and basic nutrition (10%).

The Dutch government is a global leader on SRHR and it strongly prioritizes this issue in its health-related assistance. The Netherlands supports civil society organizations (CSOs) and multilaterals active in the field of SRHR; funding for SRHR CSOs in 2021-2025 will be channeled through the ‘SRHR Partnership Fund’ (€315 million, or US$353 million; a total of €63 million, or US$71 million annually; see Sector: ‘Gender equality'). The Netherlands also plans to contribute US$68 million between 2018 and 2023 to the Global Financing Facility in support of Every Woman Every Child (GFF; a financing mechanism that acts as a catalyst to mobilize financing for government plans to invest in health care for women, children, and adolescents), topped up by an additional €10 million (US$11 million) in May of 2021 to be spent on Family Planning, with UNFPA and GFF listed as the implementers.

In response to fears that spending on COVID-19 could compromise the Netherlands’ traditional SRHR focus, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, recently reiterated her support commitment to funding HIV/AIDS programs through multilateral partners, including UNAIDS, Aidsfonds, Frontline AIDS, Robert Carr Fund, the Love Alliance, and the Global Fund, and confirmed the distribution of €70 million (US$78 million) for HIV/AIDS within the SRHR 2021 budget.

The Netherlands has not released a written policy on its global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, instead making ad hoc pledges to multilateral organizations. The Netherlands provided US$100 million over the course of the pandemic to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), the global partnership to fight COVID-19.

The Health and AIDS Division leads development policy on health

Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) is responsible for designing and coordinating the implementation of Dutch development policy. This person traditionally also had the title of Ambassador on SRHR and HIV/AIDS, which under the current Cabinet was changed to Ambassador on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. Within DGIS, the ‘Social Development Department’ (DSO) develops policies and strategies related to health, education, gender, civil society, and research. Within DSO, the health and AIDS division (DSO/GA) is responsible for the policy on SRHR, including health systems and HIV/AIDS.