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Team Europe to provide US$32 million in financing for health system development in Rwanda

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will provide a €22 million (US$26 million) loan, complemented by a €5 million (US$6 million) grant from the EU, for the Rwanda Biomedical Center to help the Rwandan National Health Laboratory develop its diagnostic, surveillance, and research capabilities. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will partner with Rwanda to redevelop the National Health Laboratory, Rwanda's central health implementation agency in Kigali, which will result in enhanced medical diagnostic tools and research in the region. 

The €27 million (US$32 million) Team Europe investment in epidemic and pandemic preparedness in Rwanda was announced in Kigali at the Second African Union-European Union ministerial meeting. This funding is the largest EIB financing provided for health in East Africa.

Press release - European Investment Bank

South Korea joins Global Methane Pledge, increases 2022 ODA budget

South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced the country's plan to join the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

In addition, President Jae-in Moon declared that South Korea will increase its 2022 official development assistance (ODA) budget in his speech to the National Assembly on October 25, 2021, targeting the green, digital, and health sectors. The proposed budget increase brings total ODA from KRW3.6 trillion (US$3.3 billion) in 2021 to KRW4 trillion (US$3.7 billion) in 2022.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

Press release – Cheong Wa Dae (in Korean)

European Council leaders encourage Commission to reduce COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing barriers

During the conclusion of the European Council meeting, which took place from October 21 - 22, 2021, EU leaders called on the European Commission to engage with vaccine manufacturers to quickly remove obstacles impeding the global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines; leaders hope to enable EU member states to rapidly deliver vaccines to countries most in need of assistance.

EU leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the global COVID-19 response and access to vaccines for all. They said the EU will continue to support both production and uptake of vaccines in EU partner countries.

Press release - European Council

UK ODA budget cuts will undermine long-term COVID-19 response, according to independent review

The UK's Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI) published a new review concerning the UK government's use of its international development assistance to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

The review praises the UK government for its initial response to the pandemic, which resulted in the rapid allocation of £773 million (US$1.0 billion) in UK official development assistance (ODA) for COVID-19 response by mid-April 2020. This swift response made the UK one of the largest international donors in the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. The review highlights, that despite the lack of an official COVID-19 development assistance strategy, the UK government focused on three core strategic areas: 

  • providing direct support to the most affected low- and- middle-income countries (LMICs); 
  • supporting the development of vaccines, tests, and treatments; and, 
  • addressing the economic consequences of the pandemic.

However, the review argues that the government’s recent decision to reduce its ODA from 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) to 0.5% negatively impacted the UK government's ability to continue to effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The review found, for example, that many ODA programs linked to addressing the pandemic were impacted by large budget cuts. The review cites the significant reduction in key sexual and reproductive health investments as examples of detrimental cuts; previous global health crises have established the importance of maintaining women's access to sexual health, making program cuts in these areas more concerning. 

The report made three recommendations to the UK government moving forward:

  1. Build upon investments in vaccine development to increase supply and equitable roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines to address continuing inequitable global vaccine access;
  2. Ensure that program leaders are given the discretion to adapt and repurpose programs to address the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling an efficient and effective response; and,
  3. Review the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office's (FCDO) strategy to repatriate staff during crises to enable a more refined approach based on risk and individual preference. This recommendation was made following the UK's blanket approach to repatriating staff, which contrasts the selective approaches adopted by other donors.

Report - ICAI

Netherlands short of COVID-19 vaccine donation commitments to COVAX, according to NGOs

Oxfam Novib reports that pharmaceutical companies and high-income countries, including the Netherlands, are supplying far fewer COVID-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) than promised based on an inventory performed by a worldwide coalition of NGOs.

Only 260 million of the 1.8 billion doses promised have been delivered - 14 percent. The report reiterated that the Netherlands has committed to supplying 27 million vaccine doses to COVAX, the World Health Organization's global vaccine initiative, but the total donated thus far is less than 500,000 doses.

The Ministry of Health replied to the criticisms, noting that it understands Oxfam Novib's call for expediency and expects to meet its pledge of 27 million vaccines by the end of 2021. The Ministry expects to donate an additional 10 million doses to COVAX at the end of the year. 

News Article - NOS (in Dutch)

NGOs call on Canada to fulfill COVID-19 vaccine donation promises, suspend intellectual property rights

Canada has taken over 970,000 doses from COVAX, the World Health Organization's vaccine alliance, for its own use, while delivering only 3.2 million – or 8% – of the 40 million doses it promised.

The US has delivered the largest quantity of donated doses - nearly 177 million - and yet, this number is merely 16% of the 1.1 billion promised. Meanwhile, the EU and countries including Germany and the UK, have refused to support the proposal by over 100 nations to waive patents on vaccines and COVID-19 - related technologies.

Preceding the G20 summit in Rome this week, the People’s Vaccine alliance – which consists of 77 members including ActionAid, the African Alliance, Oxfam, and UNAIDS – is calling on rich countries to:

  • Deliver on promises to donate COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries;
  • Immediately redistribute existing vaccines equitably across all nations; and,
  • Suspend intellectual property rights for COVID vaccines, tests, and treatments by agreeing to the proposed waiver of the TRIPS Agreement at the World Trade Organization.

​​​​Op-ed - Oxfam Canada 

US Senate Appropriations Committee approves 2022 foreign assistance bill totaling US$60.6 billion

The United States Senate Appropriations Committee approved the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations (SFOPS) bill for the fiscal year 2022 (FY2022), providing a total of US$60.6 billion for US foreign assistance. The budget represents a nine percent increase from FY2021 non-emergency enacted levels but remains slightly lower than both the bill passed by the US House of Representatives and the Biden Administration's FY2022 budget request. 

Highlights from SFOPS for FY2022:

  • Global health programs increased by US$1.2 billion over FY2021 enacted levels - three percent less than the House of Representatives-passed companion measure. Global health security programs will receive an additional US$810 million in funding with a focus on COVID-19 and future pandemic response; 
  • Climate change funding received a total of US$2.9 billion, including US$1.5 billion for the Green Climate Fund, US$1.0 billion for bilateral climate programs, and US$450 million for the Clean Technology Fund. Climate funding from the Senate exceeded the Administration's FY2022 request by 14%;
  • Development Assistance and Economic Support Funds - the two main bilateral development funding sources - received budget increases of 16% and 10%, respectively, over FY2021 enacted levels. Other programs, such as the Peace Corps and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, remained equivalent to FY2021 enacted levels; and
  • Personnel funding for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) increased in the hopes that the agency will do more to fill workplace gaps to address the increased frequency and intensity of humanitarian crises.

State- Foreign Operations Appropriations FY2022 - US Senate Appropriations Committee

News report - USGLC

Each US$1.3 billion in UK recycled IMF Special Drawing Rights to LMICs will result in US$416 million net loss, says Center for Global Development

The Center for Global Development (CGD), a leading international development think-tank, published a new report criticizing the UK’s proposal to count some of its recycled International Monetary Fund (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) as official development assistance (ODA).

CGD calculated that for every £1.0 billion (US$1.3 billion) of SDRs that the UK recycles, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) will experience a £310 million (US$416 million) net loss in development assistance. The UK will count 31% of its recycled SDRs as part of its commitment to reach 0.5% of gross national income (GNI) as ODA, reducing resources from the UK ODA budget that are available to LMICs. CGD has described the UK’s decision to count its recycled SDRs as ODA as "giving with one hand while taking with the other."

Other donor countries that have also decided to recycle their SDRs to LMICs have chosen not to count them as ODA; this decision will ensure that the full amount of SDRs is available to target countries in addition to planned ODA budgets.

The report is heavily critical of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) rules which enable the UK to count IMF lending, via its Poverty, Growth and Reduction Trust, as ODA, arguing that rules do not appropriately reflect the low-level risk of the loans.

The report recommends that:

  • In the short term, the new UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, push the UK Treasury to ensure all of its recycled SDRs are additional to the UK’s 0.5% of GNI ODA budget. If this is not possible, the report recommends that the IMF actively draw on other countries' flows that are not counted as ODA; the funding only counts as ODA when it is drawn down by the IMF and released to countries. It is not counted as ODA when it is merely committed.
  • In the long-term, if a new fund at the IMF is used to channel the additional SDRs to LMICs, it should ensure that any funding that is counted as reserves and subsides by other donors should not be counted as ODA.

Report – Center for Global Development

UK government calls on World Bank to support strong, sustainable, inclusive economic growth

The UK government called upon the World Bank Group to do more to support strong, sustainable, and inclusive growth in low- and middle-income countries.

In its statement to the 104th Meeting of the World Bank Group’s Development Committee on October 15, 2021, the UK government identified six key policy areas for action: economic development, infrastructure and financial development assistance, gender equity, pandemic response, climate change, and crisis response. 

The UK government also called upon the World Bank to ensure its International Development Association (IDA) – the low-income country financing window within the Bank - makes better use of its balance sheet to meet IDA countries' financing needs.

The UK government specifically called for World Bank Group to:

  • Trade: Strengthen supply chains, improve low-and middle-income countries' (LMICs) capacity to meet global standards, and mobilize greater investment in most-vulnerable countries;
  • Build Back Better: Work with additional multilateral development banks to provide financing at scale for target countries’ national climate, development, and poverty plans;
  • Gender equality: Help LMICs achieve 40 million more girls in school by 2026 and increase access to social protection systems that help women. The UK also called upon the World Bank to do more to address gender-based violence in its programs.
  • COVID-19: Implement its US$20.0 billion COVID-19 support package and enhance co-operation with the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Initiative, COVAX, and the African Union’s Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust to enable equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests.
  • Climate and Nature: Develop a plan to mobilize greater amounts of private climate finance, work with additional multilateral development banks to mainstream nature into all operations, and develop a new methodology to track and report on nature financing; and
  • Crisis preparedness: Improve LMICs' pandemic and crisis preparedness by providing more flexible financing and increasing investment.

The UK also called upon the World Bank to ensure its IDA 20 replenishment process makes better use of the IDA’s existing balance sheet to address the financing needs of partner countries. The UK indicates financing should be provided in ways that enable the IDA to scale up its financing capacity while protecting financial sustainability.

Press release - UK Government

Australia ceases domestic AstraZeneca vaccine production, reducing regional assistance options

Australia’s Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, indicated that Australia will not renew its contract with CSL to produce more than the originally promised 51 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. 

CSL is expected to cease production of AstraZeneca in its Australian factory in early 2022. At present, the factory produces one million doses per week and up to 800,000 of weekly doses are provided to assist vaccine rollouts in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region. 

Spokesperson for the End COVID For All Campaign, Tim Costello, called for the Australian government to strengthen domestic production capability to produce up to 100 million vaccines which should be provided at cost to Southeast Asia and the Pacific region.

In the meantime, over one million unused AstraZeneca doses are being collected from Australian facilities and pharmacies for use by partner countries in the region.

News article - ABC News

News article - Sydney Morning Herald

Members of European Parliament suggest US$235 million top-up to Health Cluster budget with surplus funding

Budget Committee Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) agreed that half of the unused funding from Horizon 2020, the 2014-2020 EU research program, should be allocated to health research in the current program for 2021-2027, Horizon Europe, giving the Health Cluster budget a €200 million (US$235 million) boost.

The MEPs said the funding should be used for health research in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The Health Cluster top-up proposal makes up part of the Parliament’s position on the 2022 EU budget. Parliament will vote on the overall annual budget position on October 20, 2021, after which MEPs will begin negotiations with member states in the Council of the EU.

News article - Science|Business

Norway to hit 1.01% GNI ODA target in 2022 budget, double climate finance by 2025

The Norwegian government's overarching development policy strategy is to promote sustainable economic development and welfare in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and contribute to combating poverty. The proposed 2022 government budget includes a record-breaking development assistance budget of NOK41.9 billion (US$ 4.7 billion), corresponding to 1.01% of gross national income (GNI). 

The government wishes to continue its focus on the fight against infectious diseases and support for maternal, child, and adolescent health. Efforts to remedy non-communicable diseases, such as mental health, cardiovascular disease, and cancer are also priorities. 

The government emphasizes combating climate change and supporting climate adaptation to prevent natural disasters in its strategy. Increased efforts against hunger, including an increased focus on food from the sea to ensure global food security, are an important part of climate adaptation and COVID-19 response work.

The government proposes NOK8.2 billion (US$ 926 million) for climate measures through the development assistance budget, which includes both climate and forestry programs. With this increase, Norway is on track to double its climate assistance by 2025. 

The government also proposes strengthened development assistance through civil society organizations in the 2022 budget. 

Press release – Norwegian Government (in Norwegian)  

COVID-19 vaccines could be ineffective in 12 months without proper distribution, according to report by Australian advocacy groups, NGOs, businesses

Tim Costello, from the campaign group End Covid For All, in conjunction with 11 partner organizations, released the major report, “A Shot of Hope - Australia’s role in vaccinating the World.” Costello warned that current COVID-19 vaccines could become ineffective in approximately 12 months if vaccinations in low-income countries continue to lag.

He urged the Australian government to commit an additional A$250 million (US$183 million) for vaccines in vulnerable countries. The report also proposed measures to advance vaccine equity and called for Australia to provide a further $50 million (US $37 million) to address vaccine hesitancy.

News article - Channel 7

Report - Micah

US releases five-year 'End Malaria Faster' strategy, following WHO approval of groundbreaking malaria vaccine

The United States Presidential Malaria Initiative (PMI) released its new malaria strategy for 2021-2026, the same day the World Health Organization recommended the use of a new malaria vaccine. 

Although global health experts hailed the new vaccine - the result of decades of work - the US strategy cautioned the vaccine as a panacea and emphasized that other measures still need to be part of the solution. 

The US malaria strategy has five main approaches: 

  1. Outreach in hard-to-reach populations; 
  2. Strengthen and expand community health systems; 
  3. Ensure that malaria services are resilient to other health shocks and climate change; 
  4. Invest in local partners to lead the malaria fight; and 
  5. Ensure innovation to end malaria faster. 

Overall, the End Malaria Faster goals are to prevent new cases, reduce malaria deaths and illness, and hasten the elimination of malaria in PMI partner countries.  PMI will work in countries that account for 80% of the malaria burden with a goal of saving more than four million lives and averting over one billion cases by 2025.

News report - Devex

Report - PMI

UK parliamentary report estimates ODA budget will drop by US$4.8 billion in 2021 to total US$14.6 billion

The UK parliament released a new report - ‘Reducing the UK’s aid spending in 2021’ - which estimates that the total official development assistance (ODA) budget for the UK will be £10.9 billion (US$14.6 billion) in 2021 compared to £14.5 billion (US$19.5 billion) in 2020.

The budget has been reduced as a result of the government’s decision to reduce its ODA from 0.7% of UK gross national income to 0.5%. The estimate is based on the UK government’s independent Office for Budget Responsibility’s March 2021 economic forecasts and is larger than the £10.0 billion (US$13.8 billion) amount set out by the UK Chancellor in his 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review.

The report notes also that in April 2021, the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) announced how it would spend its £8.1 billion (US$ 10.9 billion) ODA budget in 2020 - 2021. The funding is allocated around seven key policy priorities; it includes £1.3 billion (US$ 1.7 billion) to address the COVID-19 pandemic and support global health resilience and £0.9 billion (US$1.2 billion) for humanitarian preparedness and response. 

The report also notes that in September of 2021, the FCDO published its annual report, which included the plans for country-level ODA spending in 2021 - 2022. This report shows that the FCDO will allocate ODA to 39 countries and territories in 2021 - 2022. In 2019, the UK funded bilateral programs in 136 countries and territories; the former Department for International Development (DFID) funding focused on 46 countries and territories. Of those 46 countries which received bilateral ODA in 2019, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Ukraine, and Eritrea are currently not listed as receiving ODA from the FCDO in 2021 - 2022.

The report notes that the FCDO emphasizes that funding allocations have not been finalized yet.

Report - UK Parliament Website

South Korean health experts call for ODA changes due to prolonged COVID-19 crisis

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and Korea Foundation for International Healthcare (KOFIH), two major grant agencies which implement global health projects, co-hosted a conference on global health official development assistance (ODA) on September 30, 2021.

With weakened health and medical infrastructure in partner countries due to the prolonged COVID-19 crisis, the conference highlighted the need to approach global health differently. Partnership with the private sector was also emphasized, focusing on the crucial domestic production of medical supplies.

News article – Daily Medi (in Korean)

UK ODA fell by US$937 million in 2020 in major budget reform

The UK government released its official statistics on international development for 2020 on September 30, 2021; the report shows that the UK spent £14.5 billion (US$19.3 billion) in official development assistance (ODA) in 2020.

While the government kept its commitment to spend 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) on ODA, the actual budget decreased by £698 million (US$963 million) - 4.6% - due to the UK's shrinking economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Budget cuts were made during the middle of 2020, as the government stated it wanted to meet but not exceed its 0.7% GNI ODA target. 

The official statistics reveal:

  • A shift toward multilateral ODA - multilateral ODA rose by 3.6% (£173m); 
  • Bilateral ODA fell by 8.4% (£871 million) compared to 2019, which may indicate that the cuts in the budget predominately fell on the bilateral program. Eight of the 14 top thematic sectors of UK bilateral ODA received a reduced budget; 
  • Health initiatives accounted for 16.7% of UK bilateral ODA, taking the top spot- the health sector as the largest spend area for UK bilateral ODA, increasing by £164 million (US$220 million) in 2020, compared to 2019. Within health, the top three spending areas were: Medical Research (£373 million (US$501 million)), COVID-19 response (£317 million (US$439 million)), and infectious disease control (£169 million (US$227 million)).
  • The largest cut was to the education sector with spending reduced by 31%. 
  • The African continent continues to receive the majority of UK region-specific ODA – It received over half (52%) of all UK region-specific bilateral ODA in 2020, but the amount of bilateral ODA provided to the region decreased by £375 million (US$503 million) in 2020. The top three recipients of UK bilateral country-specific ODA were Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Somalia.
  • In 2020, the UK estimates that it spent £1.6 billion (US$2.2 billion) of its bilateral ODA on COVID-19 pandemic response.
  • The EU remains the largest recipient of UK multilateral ODA, accounting for 31% of all UK Multilateral core ODA, followed by the World Bank’s IDA (19%) and then the Global Fund (10%).
  • NGOs have criticized the UK government's lack of transparency and are requesting access to the original 2020 ODA budget spending plans in order to adequately assess cuts. 

Report – UK Final Statistics on International Development 2020

News article – BOND

New parliamentary report calls for UK to bolster WHO reforms, support COVAX, and develop comprehensive global health strategy

The UK House of Common’s Foreign Affairs Committee released its Global Heath, Global Britain report on September 30, 2021.

The report argues that "health security cannot be separated from foreign policy" and notes that the government’s cuts to its global health development assistance are ‘ill-considered" and risk "endangering Global Britain’s reputation as a science superpower and force for good.’’

The report recommendations include a call for the UK government to:

  • Prioritize driving reform at the World Health Organisation (WHO) to bolster its independence and power. It also recommends that the UK support the recommendations made by the WHO’s Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPPR) for the organization to be given greater powers to independently investigate outbreaks. It calls for the UK to encourage other countries to increase their core funding to the WHO to give it more independence and power moving forward;   
  • Speed up and increase the number of vaccines it donates through COVAX as both a moral imperative and a crucial aspect of UK security. Importantly, it calls for a clear strategy to guide the UK’s bilateral donations that enable predictable and sustained support in a timely manner to vulnerable people;  
  • Put in place mechanisms for ongoing cooperation with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and assess the impact of maintaining UK access to the ECDC’s Early Warning Response System on the UK’s ability to access key data and enhance global health security;  
  • Help enable greater manufacturing capacity of key vaccines and drugs in lower-income countries via transfer of knowledge and technical support;   
  • Ensure global health spending is maintained post-COVID-19 crisis, including for vital health system strengthening;
  • Publicly commit to allocating previous levels of funding to development assisted health research programs when the fiscal situation allows; and,
  • Publish a new global health strategy by the end of 2021. 

Report - Global Health Global Britain

UK NGOs raise concerns over additional cuts to UK development assistance budget

UK NGOs raised concerns over the UK Treasury's plan to make further cuts to the UK’s development assistance budget as a result of so-called ‘accounting tricks.’ 

The UK government announced that it will only spend 0.5% of its gross national income (GNI) on official development assistance (ODA) from 2021 onwards. However, UK NGOs are concerned that in addition to this cut, the Treasury will count the following spending items in its ODA budget, further reducing the discretionary funds available to the UK in 2021-2022:

  • Cancellation of a multi-million-pound debt owed by Sudan to the UK, despite the debt having been written off years ago;
  • 30% of Special Drawing Rights given by the IMF, which the UK has agreed to recycle and hand on to low- and lower-middle-income countries in order to help with the economic fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic, despite this funding providing additional new resources to the UK budget; and,
  • The cost of giving COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries as official ODA, which could amount to £1 billion (US$1.4 billion).

While these spending items are all allowed under the international rules for measuring ODA set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation, UK NGOs argue that they either don’t represent current real flows of money (Sudan’s historic debt relief) or should be given in addition to the UK’s ODA budget as they come from an additional budget or are responding to exceptional circumstances.   

NGOs note that if the Treasury decides to count these items as part of its ODA spending, the discretionary spending of the UK’s development assistance budget will be significantly reduced. The budget has already been cut by £4 billion (US$5.4 billion) due to the government’s decision to reduce the volume of ODA to 0.5% of UK's GNI in 2021/22. However, these additional costs could cut the UK’s discretionary spending by a further £2 billion (US$2.7 billion), leaving the UK with only £8 billion (US$10.7 billion) for its discretionary ODA budget in 2021/22.

News article – DEVEX

EU ministers establish public-private research partnerships, including clinical trial collaboration in sub-Saharan Africa

Research ministers in the Council of the EU reached an agreement on the legislative basis for nine public-private partnerships on research and innovation (R&I) under Horizon Europe, the EU’s research program for 2021-2027. The program includes a partnership on clinical trials in Africa.

The European Commission’s European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) is a partnership that includes participating EU and African countries. Horizon Europe includes the third iteration of EDCTP, called EDCTP3 or the EU-Africa Global Health Partnership, which focuses on poverty-related infectious diseases affecting sub-Saharan Africa. EDCTP has historically been a public-public partnership but the new EDCTP3 will be public-private, meaning industry will also participate.

News article - Science|Business