Sweden - Global health R&D

Strong focus on SRHR and AMR; Sida and the Swedish Research Council are the two main funders

In 2018, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) did not report any funding to the G-FINDER survey. Data from previous years, however, point to these two institutions as the main funders of research and development (R&D) on poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs), referred to as ‘global health R&D’ in this profile. In 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Sida reported investing SEK254 million (US$30 million) for health-related R&D. In 2019, this number went down to SEK127 million (US$14 million).

Sweden's Global health R&D

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Strategic orientations are set out in the MFA’s 2015-2019 ‘Strategy for Research Cooperation and Research in Development Cooperation’, which has both national and global components. It aims to contribute to high-quality research that is of relevance to poverty reduction and sustainable development within Sweden, as well as to strengthened research capacities in low-income countries and regions. It also supports innovation systems to help ensure that research findings can contribute to a greater extent to solutions to poverty-related challenges. In line with its broader global health priorities, Sweden’s research focuses on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

Funding is typically channeled through two institutions: Sida and the Swedish Research Council, both of which receive most of their funding from the MFA. Sida is traditionally the largest channel.

  • Sida sources its funding from its ‘research cooperation’ budget line, which amounts to SEK920 million (US$106 million) in 2020 (stable from 2019). The largest programs funded are World Health Organization (WHO)-based programs, such as the Human Reproduction Program (HRP) in the field of SRHR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), and the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (AHPSR). Other large programs include the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (ECDTP), and the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA).
  • The Swedish Research Council provided a stable US$5 to US$9 million to global health R&D between 2010 and 2016 but did not participate in the G-FINDER survey regarding its 2017 and 2018 funding. In the past, it has mainly financed Sweden’s own Karolinska Institutet, a medical institute that hosts a Center for Global Health, and centers for research on malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, infectious diseases, and other research areas relevant to poverty-related and neglected diseases.

Sweden also provides R&D support through some of its country strategies, e.g., in Ethiopia.

In November 2019, the government announced its application to become a member of the Global Knowledge Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Development  (Global AMR R&D Hub), a policy network created within the framework of the G20 that coordinates AMR research initiatives around the world.

Following the global outbreak of COVID-19, the Swedish government announced a few additional funding initiatives for global health R&D: It will provide SEK100 million (US$12 million) to the Swedish Research Council to fund projects to develop vaccines, SEK50 million (US$6 million) to the International Vaccine Institute, and SEK29 million (US$3 million) to support the COVID-19 Global South Artificial Intelligence and Data Innovation Program.

Strategic orientations are defined by the MFA; Sida channels most of the funding

Within the MFA, the Department for International Development Cooperation establishes the strategies for Sweden’s international research cooperation. With regards to implementation, Sida’s Research Council reviews Sida’s proposals for cooperation. The ‘Unit for Research Cooperation’ at the Department for Partnerships and Cooperation within Sida manages the funds. Cooperation through the Swedish Research Council is led by the Committee for Development Research.