Norway shows leadership by hosting the secretariat of CEPI, a vaccine development initiative

According to G-FINDER, Norway provided US$4 million in 2017 for research and development (R&D) on poverty-related and neglected diseases, referred to as ‘global health R&D’ in this profile. Norway’s funding for global health R&D has remained low following a peak in 2011, and represented just 0.2% of global spending in 2017. However, total funding is likely higher, as funding to specific initiatives is not covered (see below).

Norway focuses its funding on tuberculosis, which received US$1.5 million (41%) of its global health R&D funding in 2017. Other areas of funding include diarrhoeal diseases (28%), kinetoplastid diseases (13%), and malaria (13%). These figures may differ from the trend numbers presented in the chart due to changes in the scope of the G-FINDER survey from year to year.

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Norway’s global health research strategy mainly focuses on the field of immunization: In 2017, 48% of its funding went to the development of preventive vaccines. 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, the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS), and Nipah–three diseases that have the potential to become major epidemics. CEPI aims to have two candidate vaccines for each of these diseases tested within five years of its inception.

Norway’s strategy documents emphasize the importance of 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 CEPI as the government’s most important new initiative in global health. Norway supported CEPI’s launch at the World Economic Forum in January 2017 with a commitment of NOK1 billion (around US$120 million) until 2021. It plans to provide up to NOK600 million more between 2021 and 2025 (US$73 million).

Norway also funds global health R&D through a national program, the ‘Program for Global Health and Vaccination Research’ (GLOBVAC). GLOBVAC is a joint program by Norad and the Research Council of Norway (RCN) and plays a crucial role in Norwegian knowledge production. It strengthens its national capacity in global health and vaccine research, while also contributing to capacity-building in partner countries. GLOBVAC initially planned to deliver NOK594 million (US$72 million) in financing for 2012 to 2020; the government has since increased its allocations between 2018 and 2020 by NOK105 million (US$13 million). It disbursed NOK120 million (US$15 million) 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. Norway supports 51 projects through GLOBVAC.

Funding for global health R&D comes from the Research Council of Norway and the MFA

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

RCN distributed more than half of global health R&D funding in 2017 (62%), mostly to Norwegian universities. 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 (38% in 2017).