Global health R&D spending is low

According to G-FINDER, Norway provided US$5 million in 2016 for research and development (R&D) on poverty-related and neglected diseases, referred to as ‘global health R&D’ in this profile. Funding for global health R&D has remained at a low level since 2012. Norway focuses its funding on tuberculosis, with US$2 million (45%) of its global health R&D funding. Other areas of funding include diarrhoeal diseases (14%) and Malaria (11%).

Norway’s global health research strategy mainly focuses on the field of immunization. In this context, the government supports and hosts the permanent secretariat of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). CEPI is a global vaccine development fund that aims to develop vaccines against Lassa fever, MERS, and Nipah – three diseases that have the potential to become major epidemics. The ambition is to have two candidate vaccines for each of these diseases tested within five years. Norway supported its launch at the World Economic Forum in January 2017 with a commitment of NOK1 billion (around US$120 million) until 2021.

Norway’s strategy documents also emphasize research related to communicable diseases in developing countries, and research to strengthen its own knowledge base on non-communicable diseases. In its 2017 White Paper ‘Common future, common responsibilities‘, the MFA outlines the CEPI as the government’s most important new initiative in global health.

Norway’s public funding for global health R&D comes from the Research Council of Norway and the MFA

Two major public institutions in Norway provide funding for global health R&D: the Research Council of Norway (RCN) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA); including the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, Norad).

RCN distributed just over half of global health R&D funding in 2016 (55%). RCN serves as the advisory body for the government authorities on research policy issues. It awards research grants and is overseen by the Ministry of Research. The RCN follows the research policy guidelines of the government and parliament, and additionally advises the government. The MFA, including Norad, provides the remaining global health R&D funding (45% in 2016).

These two institutions also work collaboratively to channel financing to global health R&D. For example, the ‘Program for Global Health and Vaccination Research’ (GLOBVAC), a joint program by Norad and the RCN, plays a crucial role in Norwegian knowledge production. GLOBVAC strengthens its national capacity in global health and vaccine research, while also contributing to capacity-building in partner countries. GLOBVAC intitially planned to deliver NOK594 million (US$71 million) in financing for 2012 to 2020; the government has since increased its allocations between 2018 and 2020 by NOK105 million (US$12 million). NOK120 million (US$15 million) was allocated in 2017. GLOBVAC focuses on vaccination research and other research with potential for high impact that can contribute to improvements in health equity in developing countries.