Global health R&D is largely directed towards product development partnerships; drug research is a focus

After a drastic drop in 2015, the Netherlands’ contributions to development funding for research and development (R&D) on poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs), referred to as ‘global health R&D’ in this profile, returned to a level closer to historic norms and stood at US$23 million, as reported to the G-FINDER.

This makes the Netherlands the seventh-largest donor to global health R&D in absolute terms and the third-largest donor in relative terms. Reported financing by the Netherlands to global health R&D overall declined between 2007 and 2015, reaching a nadir of US$4.9 million in 2015. But in 2016 funding rose by almost 370%, driven by strengthened engagement in product development partnerships (PDPs), which represented 99% of funding in 2016.

Dutch global health R&D focused on HIV/AIDS (US$9 million, or 39% of its total funding), kinetoplastids (US$4 million, or 19% of total funding), and tuberculosis (US$3 million, or 15%), and malaria (US$2 million, 10%). Almost half of all funding (US$10 million, 45%) was directed towards drug research.

The Netherlands focuses its support to global health R&D on PDPs, as they contribute to the country’s policies on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), as well as the development agenda ‘Investing in Global Prospects’ and 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. By 2025, the Dutch government wants the Dutch private sector working in life sciences and health to spend more than 10% of its revenue on R&D. ‘Solutions to neglected and poverty-related diseases’ is one of the ten roadmaps within the ‘Topsector Life Sciences and Health’.

Currently the Netherlands channels its global health R&D through the PDP III Fund. PDP I and II had total budgets of €150 million, or US$167 million, between 2006 and 2014. The PDP III fund has a total budget of €86 million (US$95 million) for 2016 to 2020. The Netherlands aims to contribute to innovation in the areas of health-care products and technologies specifically targeting diseases and conditions related to poverty and SRHR. 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 (TB Alliance, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM), and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND)) have been selected to receive funding from PDP III.

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 almost 99% of total health R&D in 2016. The remaining 1% of global health R&D funding is channeled through 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. 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.