Netherlands - Global health R&D

The Netherlands was the eleventh-largest funder of global health R&D in 2019

According to data from the G-FINDER survey conducted by Policy Cures Research, the Netherlands contributed US$19 million in total to R&D for emerging infectious diseases (EIDs), poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs), and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) in 2019, making it the eleventh-largest public donor to R&D for these areas. The largest portion (68% or US$13 million of this funding was spent on R&D for PRNDs only. 31% (US$6 million) was spent on R&D for both PRNDs and SRH, and just 1% (US$200,000) on was spent on SRH only.


The Netherlands did not fund R&D for EIDs in 2019

The Netherlands did not provide any funding to R&D for EIDs in 2019. 2018 is the only year in the last decade that the Netherlands funded EID research; that year US$113,000 was allocated to R&D for EIDs, made up entirely of funding for R&D relevant to both EIDs and PRNDs. It is worth noting that it is common to see spikes and dips in EID funding as donors respond to outbreaks, and do not necessarily indicate a significant re/de-prioritization of the sector; however, consistent funding for EID R&D (for example, funding for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; CEPI) is essential to ensuring preparedness in advance of EID outbreaks and ensuring a rapid response — in terms of both research and containment — to emerging disease threats. 

The Netherlands has stepped up R&D funding to EID through its international COVID-19 response, committing US$95 million between March and October 2020

According to Policy Cures Research’s COVID-19 R&D tracker, between the start of the pandemic and October 2020 (latest data available), the Netherlands announced funding commitments totaling US$95 million for COVID-19 R&D. US$54 million of this will go towards vaccines (committed to CEPI) with another US$40 million allocated for unspecified purposes.

For additional information on the broader ACT-A global health response to COVID-19, see Sector: ‘Global Health’.

The Netherlands’ funding for PRNDs decreased slightly in 2019

In 2019, the Netherlands invested US$19 million in R&D for PRNDs (nearly all of its total R&D funding) including funding for R&D exclusively relevant to PRNDS (US$13 million) and areas of overlap with SRH (US$6 million). This makes the Netherlands the ninth-largest public supporter of PRND R&D in 2019. In 2019, funding levels saw decrease of 7% compared to 2018.

Most of the Netherlands’ funding for PRNDs in 2019 took the form of drugs (85%). 34% of funding was spent on “core funding of a multi-disease R&D organization”. Vaccine development for PRNDs accounted for 1% of Dutch R&D funding in 2019.

The Netherlands focuses its support to global health R&D on product development partnerships (PDPs) as they contribute to its development agenda, ‘Investing in Global Prospects’, as well as the ‘Roadmap on neglected diseases’. This roadmap is part of the ‘Topsector Life Sciences & Health’, one of nine ‘Topsectors’ set apart by the government as a joint venture between the Dutch private sector and research centers to excel internationally. ‘Solutions to neglected and poverty-related diseases’ is one of the ten roadmaps within the ‘Topsector Life Sciences and Health’. The Dutch government engages with the private sector to ensure that by 2025, the Dutch private sector working in life sciences and health will spend more than 10% of its revenue on R&D.

Currently, the Netherlands channels its funding for global health R&D through the PDP III Fund against poverty-related diseases, which has a total budget of €86 million (US$96 million) for 2015 to 2020, though the latest PDP funding renewal decision has not yet been made. The fund focuses on the development and availability of affordable and effective medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, and innovative products for neglected diseases, with the aim of combatting poverty and inequality.

Six organizations were selected to receive funding from PDP III: Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi; US$4 million), the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI; US$4 million), Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV; US$4 million), TB Alliance (US$4 million), and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND; US$3 million). The Dutch government announced in October of 2020 that it will extend the current PDP Fund for one more year with the same conditions and partners of the current agreement. The decision around the longer-term planning for 2022-2026 was also delayed by a year.

Although SRH is a development priority, Dutch funding for SRH R&D remains low

In 2019, the Netherlands spent US$6 million on R&D for SRH, made up primarily of US$5.8 million in funding for HIV/AIDS (which is also counted as part the PRND funding outlined above), holding essentially steady from 2018 levels. This makes the Netherlands the ninth-largest donor to this sector in 2019.

In addition to HIV/AIDS (97% of SRH R&D funding in 2019), the Netherlands made disbursements for R&D for sexually transmitted infections (STDs; 3%). 100% of funding for SRH R&D only went toward drugs. Funding spent on R&D for both SRH and PRNDs was split between vaccines (66%) and microbicides (34%). 

The Dutch Directorate-General for International Cooperation is the largest funder of global health R&D

By far largest funding body for global health R&D is the Dutch Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS), responsible for the coordination, funding, and implementation of development cooperation policy and for ensuring coherence between Dutch and EU development policy. In 2019, DGIS disbursed US$18 million in total funding for global health R&D (97% of the Netherlands’ overall R&D disbursements for EIDs, PRNDs, and SRH). The Dutch ministries for Health, Welfare and Sport and for Scientific Research each disbursed 2% and 1% of R&D funding in 2019, respectively.

Within DGIS, the Social Development Department (DSO) develops policies related to global health. Within DSO, the Health and AIDS Division (DSO/GA) is responsible for the PDP funds (including the current PDP III). DSO/GA reviews proposals together with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The MFA commissioned RVO, which is part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, to manage the PDP III and LS&H4D funds on its behalf.