Netherlands - Global health
At a glance
The Netherlands' ODA to health strongly focuses on SRHR
The Netherlands’ total ODA to health in 2016 (the latest year for which multilateral and bilateral OECD data is available) was US$633 million, which was 11% of its total ODA, putting it above the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average of 8%. This makes the Netherlands the seventh-largest DAC donor to global health in absolute terms.
Of the US$633 million in ODA to health in 2016, 50% was made up of core contributions to multilaterals, 14% was earmarked funding to multilaterals (reported as bilateral funding), and the remainder (36%) was provided bilaterally.
Bilateral health ODA went from US$198 million in 2017 to US$245 million in 2018, accounting for 10% of total bilateral ODA. The increase was primarily driven by funding to the subsectors of basic nutrition, sexually transmitted disease (STD) control (including HIV/AIDS), and health policy and administrative management. Reflecting the Dutch policy focus on SRHR, bilateral health funding strongly focuses on reproductive health care. In 2018, nearly half of bilateral health funding went to reproductive health care (48%). It was followed by basic nutrition (16%), population policy and administrative management (14%), and STD control (8%).
The Dutch government is a global leader on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). In 2017, it launched the global initiative ‘She Decides’ to support organizations that focus on SRHR and family planning. In October 2018, the Netherlands announced its first pledge 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. It will contribute US$68 million between 2018 and 2023
As part of its COVID-19 response, the Dutch government pledged a further €10 million (US$12 million) to the GFF. Furthermore, in December 2018, the Dutch parliament approved an amendment to the 2018 budget for an additional increase of €10 million (US$12 million) to be spent on Family Planning, with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and GFF listed as the implementers. The Netherlands allocated 60 million (US$68 million), and UNAIDS €20 million (US$23 million) from the Netherlands to be channeled in 2020.
The Netherlands strongly supports civil society organizations (CSOs) active in the field of SRHR. Funding for SRHR for 2016 to 2020 is channeled through the ‘SRHR Partnership Fund’ (€215 million, or US$253 million; a total of €43 million, or US$51 million annually). The Fund is a partnership between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and seven Dutch CSO on SRHR, with a special focus on young people. The winners of the calls for proposals were made public in June of 2020.
The Netherlands streamlines its efforts on SRHR across other sectors. In July 2017, it released a joint statement with the UK and Belgium at the Family Planning 2020 Summit, in which all three countries committed that their core funding to the humanitarian system will strengthen results on protecting and empowering women and girls, including SRHR.
Other recent pledges to health multilaterals include a €156 million (US$12 million) pledge made at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) replenishment conference in France in October 2019. The same amount was pledged by the Dutch government at the previous replenishment conference that took place in 2016 for the 2017-2019 period, but an additional €10 million (US$12 million) was added in 2017, through parliamentary measures, bringing the total contribution for 2017-2019 to €166 million (US$196 million). The Netherlands, which was a prominent member state in the establishment of the Global Fund, is now one of the few countries reducing its contributions.
As Dutch civil servants have pointed out, the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, has de-prioritized global health throughout her mandate, which began in 2017. Even though global health is not a priority for the Minister, at the May 4, 2020, Coronavirus Global Response conference, the Netherlands pledged a sum of €192 million (US$226 million), of which €50 million (US$59 million) is allocated to the Coalition for Emergency Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) for vaccine development and €42 million (US$50 million) to research on COVID-19. The remaining €100 million (US$118 million) will be put toward contributions to the World Health Organization (WHO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (GFF) and a few other international NGOs.
The Netherlands also announced a US$114 million pledge to international pandemic response, all within existing budgets, however, the specific shifts in the current budgets made to free up this amount have not been made public.
The total amount is divided as follows:
€15 million (US$16 million) to UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) intended to prevent the further spread of COVID-19
€35 million (US$38 million) to provide support for humanitarian assistance in the most vulnerable countries to be channelled through international organizations. This includes:
- €10 million (US$11 million) to the Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA);
- €15 million (US$16 million) to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF);
- €5 million (US$5 million) channelled through the Country Based Pooled Funds (CBPF) for international humanitarian organizations and NGOs; and
- €5 million (US$5 million) to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
€50 million (US$54 million) to maintain and improve the macro-economic stability of the poorest countries to mitigate the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 crisis, further divided into:
- €10 million (US$11 million) to the World Bank for health system strengthening in low-income countries;
- €15 million (US$16 million) to the IMF's Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT), with an additional €10 million (US$10,83 million) to be made available upon request; and
- €15 million (US$16 million) to the United Nation's (UN) Response and Recovery Trust Fund (RRTF)
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.