Japan invests in global health R&D through the Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund

Japan was the 11th-largest public funder of global health research and development (R&D) in 2016. It provided US$17.4 million for research and development (R&D) on poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs), referred to as ‘global health R&D’ in this profile. These figures are based on the G-FINDER survey conducted by Policy Cures Research.

Japan launched the Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund in 2013. Japan has channeled almost all global health R&D funding through the GHIT Fund since then (US$16.6 million, or 95% of health R&D spending in 2016). The remaining funds (US$800,000 million in 2016) went to the Japanese National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID). The GHIT Fund is an intermediary that supports and finances product development but does not have its own product portfolio. By facilitating cooperation between the public, private, and civil society sectors, the fund aims to respond to market failures in the development of drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which have little commercial value.

The fund mainly targets HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and NTDs. Requirements for funding are that the drugs developed will be affordable in low- and middle-income countries and that patents must be made available through royalty-free licenses to low-income countries and least-developed countries. 

GHIT was launched with an initial commitment of US$100 million pledged by the Japanese government, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and pharmaceutical companies, for a period of five years. In May 2016, during its G7 presidency, Japan committed an additional US$130 million to the fund. Since 2013, the GHIT Fund has invested US$115 million, with the majority of this funding going to drug development and pre-clinical projects. 46% of the portfolio (US$56 million) has been dedicated to neglected tropical diseases, and 42% (US$48 million) to malaria-related projects. The remaining funding goes to tuberculosis research (13%, US$14 million).

The Japanese government also supports health R&D outside of PRNDs. While not reported to the G-Finder due to the focus on different types of health R&D, the Japanese Agency for Medical Research and Development, AMED, which is funded and overseen by the government, had a budget in FY2017 of ¥8.2 billion (US$75 million) for R&D on emerging infectious diseases.

The Ministry of Health and the MOFA make funding decisions for global health R&D

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) are the most relevant actors for global health R&D policy-making. Since 2013, the majority of Japan’s global health R&D funding has been channeled through the GHIT. AMED consolidates budgets from different ministries and unifies the process for allocation of research funding. Within the GHIT Fund, the Selection Committee evaluates investment proposals and reports from the project partners and makes funding recommendations to the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors approves the funding recommendations.

Further readings

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