Netherlands - Global health R&D

The Netherlands largely funds product development partnerships for global health

The Netherlands’ funding for research and development (R&D) on poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs), referred to as ‘global health R&D’ in this profile, stood at US$21 million in 2018, as reported to the G-FINDER . This makes the Netherlands the ninth-largest funder of global health R&D. Following a major dip in 2015, Dutch financing for global health R&D has hovered in the years since at around US$25 million.

Dutch global health R&D funding focuses on HIV/AIDS (US$6 million, or 30% of its total funding), kinetoplastids (US$4 million, or 21%), and malaria (US$4 million, or 18%), and tuberculosis (US$4 million, 18%).

The Netherlands focuses its support to global health R&D on product development partnerships 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 Product Development Partnership (PDP) III Fund against poverty-related diseases, which has a total budget of €86 million (US$102 million) for 2015 to 2020. PDP I and II had total budgets of €150 million (US$179 million), between 2006 and 2014. 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 have been selected to receive funding from PDP III: Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi; US$4 million in 2018 according to G-FINDER), 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 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 the 2022-2026 will be also delayed by a year.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis (and as of May 2020), the Netherlands, specifically, the Ministry of Health, pledged an initial €15 million (US$18 million) for vaccine development to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and noted its intention to continue funding CEPI from 2021 onwards. The Ministry of Health offered an additional €30 million (US$33 million) for urgent research questions related to COVID-19 including €5 million (US$6 million) for financing researching on medicines and already existing vaccines.

In June of 2020, the Netherlands pledged €25 million (US$30 million) at the Global Goal Summit, convened by Global Citizen and the European Commission, towards an affordable and equitably distributed COVID-19 vaccine. An additional €20 million (US$24 million) was allocated to research and development for COVID-19 treatment, with US$11 million allotted to Stichting Sanquin Bloedvoorziening, which specializes in blood plasma research, and€10 million (US$12 million) to the COVID-19 research program of the Dutch Organization for Health Research and Innovation, ZonMW.

The Netherlands joined the COVAX facility in late August and was part of a group contribution of US$459 million with other EU member states to the coalition, which aims to ensure universal access to the eventual COVID-19 vaccine.

MFA sets strategy; Netherlands Enterprise agency manages funds related to global health R&D

According to G-FINDER data, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), specifically the Directorate-General of Development Cooperation (DGIS), is the largest funder of global health R&D, channeling virtually all (99.5%) of total health R&D funding in 2018. The remaining 0.5% comes from the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research – Global Development Division (WOTRO). 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.