South Korea - Global health R&D

Global health R&D is not a strategic priority within South Korea’s development policy  

Research and development for poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs; referred to as ‘global health R&D’ in this profile) is not a focus of South Korea’s development assistance. Instead, the government tends to use non-ODA resources to invest in R&D by domestic companies: For example, during the COVID-19 crisis, the government has invested mostly domestically in COVID-19-related R&D, but has committed to sharing the results globally. 

The South Korean government spent US$90,000 in 2018 on PRNDs, according to the G-FINDER report, produced by Policy Cures Research. This is a significant decrease from 2017 when South Korea reported US$2.8 million in funding for this sector but more in line with the volumes reported in both 2015 and 2016. 

South Korea's Global health R&D

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All reported funding in 2018 went to the Korean Institute of Tuberculosis, a government research institution. In 2017, South Korea invested similar levels of funding in the Korean Institute of Tuberculosis, as well as US$2 million in the Seoul-based International Vaccine Institute (IVI) for a Product Development Partnership (PDP) dedicated to research in vaccine development and delivery for partner countries. 

South Korea contributes to UNITAID, a global health research and development initiative focused on tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and hepatitis C. It has pledged US$5 million a year to UNITAID for the period 2019 to 2021, which represents a 25% increase in annual contributions compared to its 2013 to 2018 contribution. South Korea helped to establish a ‘Research Investment for Global Health Technology’ Fund, known as the RIGHT Fund which aims to leverage South Korea’s global health R&D expertise and its ODA to develop technologies to address health needs in low- and middle-income countries. The government has committed to providing KRW25 billion (US$23 million) in total between 2018 and 2022. 

South Korea’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention leads on ODA-related global health R&D

South Korea’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) takes on the leading role for disease control in South Korea. Within the CDC, the Risk Assessment and International Cooperation Division under the Emergency Operations Bureau manages operations in partner countries.