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Health Assistance to Developing Countries Up Since 1990: Study

But, rise in funding has stagnated since 2010, researchers add

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TUESDAY, June 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- There has been an increase in health-related development assistance to low-income countries since 1990, a new study finds.

The increased funding has focused mostly on HIV/AIDS, maternal health and newborn and child health.

"Understanding how funding patterns have changed across time... may help identify where funding gaps persist and where cost-effective interventions could save lives," Joseph Dieleman, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues wrote.

Even with increased assistance, a child's risk of dying before the age of 5 in a low-income country was 12 times higher than in the United States in 2013. A mother's risk of dying in childbirth was 21 times higher in a low-income country compared to the United States, the researchers noted. Most of these deaths are preventable, they added.

Development assistance for health rose 11 percent a year from 2000 to 2010. But, there hasn't been a significant increase in development assistance for health since 2010, the study found.

Between 1990 and 2014, $458 billion was distributed from high-income countries to developing countries to maintain or improve health. Assistance was almost $7 billion in 1990. That increased to nearly $36 billion in 2014.

The U.S. government was the largest source of health-related development assistance. The United States contributed more than $143 billion between 1990 and 2014. That works out to about 31 percent of the total amount, the researchers said. The United Kingdom was the second-largest contributing country with 7 percent of the total -- or almost $33 billion from 1990 to 2014.

Private foundations provided nearly $70 billion in health-related development assistance to low-income countries between 1990 and 2014, including more than $6 billion last year.

Since 1990, 28 percent of health-related development assistance was for maternal health and newborn and child health. HIV/AIDS programs received 23 percent of the assistance, the study found.

The study was published June 16 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

With growing austerity in wealthy nations, it could be difficult to maintain health-related development funding for low-income counties, Dr. Andy Haines, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the U.K., noted in an accompanying editorial.

"Work such as that described in [this study] should be supported and expanded. Additional data are needed to provide better evidence for decision-making and strengthen the case for funding to address the health problems of poor populations living in low-income countries that cannot fund the provision of essential health care for their own populations in the near future," Haines wrote.

More information

The World Health Organization has more about health financing.

SOURCE: JAMA, news release, June 16, 2015


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