Global health is traditionally a key priority of Norway’s ODA policy and is strengthened by adopting a collaborative approach with other ODA development sectors

Over the past ten years, Norway has been an influential actor in the field of global health. Former Prime Minister (PM) Jens Stoltenberg placed global health on the government’s agenda, a focus maintained by current PM Erna Solberg.

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In 2016 , Norway was the eighth largest donor country to health. Its total ODA to the sector stood at US$543 million and accounted for 12% of its total ODA. This share is well above the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average of 8% and ranks Norway sixth in relative terms.

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Norway has steadily increased its support for health since 2011 (from US$376 million), mostly due to increased engagement with health-related multilateral organizations. Norway’s white paper on Global Health in Foreign and Development Policy (2012) outlines three priorities for the sector: 1) mobilizing at an international level for women’s and children’s rights and health; 2) reducing the burden of disease, with an emphasis on prevention; and 3) promoting human security through health.

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In 2016, Norway channeled US$323 million to multilateral organizations as core contributions, or 59% of its total health ODA (DAC average: 56%). Key recipients of multilateral ODA to health are Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi); the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund); and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Gavi and the Global Fund will continue to be major partners for the country: Norway has pledged US$304 million to the Global Fund for 2017 to 2019, and US$1.016 billion to Gavi for 2016 to 2020, setting it to become the second-largest donor country to Gavi after the UK. In addition, it has committed US$285 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative for 2014 to 2019.

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In September 2014, Norway co-launched the Global Financing Facility (GFF) in support of the ‘Every Woman Every Child’ initiative, in partnership with the World Bank and the governments of Canada and the US. Norway’s initial commitment to the GFF Trust Fund amounted to US$600 million for 2016 to 2020. On April 23, 2018, the Norwegian Government announced that it will co-host (in Oslo) the GFF replenishment event on November 6, 2018, together with the government of Burkina Faso, the World Bank Group, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Norway's priority countries for bilateral health cooperation:

  • India
  • Malawi
  • Nigeria
  • Tanzania
  • Pakistan

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In 2016, Norway’s bilateral ODA to health amounted to US$221 million. More than half of this amount was actually channeled as earmarked funding through multilaterals (57%, or US$127 million). Priority areas for bilateral cooperation include basic health care (38% in 2016), health policy and administration (20%), and infectious disease control (11%).

Norway is increasingly connecting health with other areas of development cooperation. For example, it facilitated a resolution on ‘health and the environment’ at the World Health Organization (WHO), which was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2015. The resolution gives WHO a strong mandate to work on mitigating the effects of air pollution on health and to considerably scale up its activities in the area.

Strategic orientation for global health is set within the MFA

Norway’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, currently Hans Brattskar, is a key actor in the implementation of Norway’s multilateral funding for health. The Mission in Geneva represents Norway at WHO and participates in the governance of global health organizations. Within the MFA, the Department for Economic Relations and Development has a Development Policy Section, which has responsibility for education and global health investments. Bilateral relations are handled by the individual bilateral departments, under the Department of Regional Affairs. Strategic priorities have historically been set by the MFA; however, in January 2017, the MFA’s appropriation letter to Norad articulated that Norad was to take responsibility for global health and education. The implications of this change are as yet unclear. Norad’s department of global health and education is in charge of global health under the Director-General of Norad.