Top 2 Health Care Areas Seeing the Biggest Spending Growth

APRIL 20, 2016
Rachel Lutz
Spending on maternal health and childhood care has seen greater growth than spending on HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria since 2010, marking a reversal in spending trends from 2000 to 2010.

Researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington collected budget statements, annual reports, and project-level records from agencies that disbursed development assistance for health between 1990 and 2015. Then, they tracked where the money came from and to whom it was given in order to dig deeper into how development assistance for health gets spent, Joseph Dieleman, PhD, assistant professor at IHME, told Pharmacy Times.

The study authors categorized the funds into 9 primary groups: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, maternal health, newborn and child health, other infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, Ebola, and sector-wide approaches to health care system strengthening.

HIV/AIDS still made up the majority of development assistance for health. Nearly 30% of the total funds spent in 2015 went to HIV/AIDS, while 17.9% and 9.8% of it was spent on child health and maternal health, respectively.

Funds for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis saw the most growth between 2000 and 2009, but since 2010, assistance for maternal health and child health has climbed further. Meanwhile, assistance for HIV/AIDS and most of the other health focuses has remained stable or decreased. 

The researchers also discovered greater increases in development assistance for health in the 2000s than the 1990s, but growth has been limited since 2010. In 2015, development assistance for health totaled $36.4 billion, and more than two-thirds of the global health care funding that year was provided by the governments of 10 high-income countries.

Spending increased at a rate of 11.2% between 2000 and 2009, but since 2010, spending growth has increased by just 1.2%. Still, experts have estimated that future assistance spending could be as much as $64 billion by 2040.

Dr. Dieleman said the different spending patterns reflect the changing priorities and investments of the international health care community over the past quarter-century.

“What’s most important to remember is all health workers—including pharmacists—as well as health experts and policymakers need to consider how to most effectively allocate resources and provide the best health care possible to people around the world,” he said.

Diseases and conditions linked to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, which target extreme poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability, increased faster between 2000 and 2010 than health-focused areas that were not associated with those goals, Dr. Dieleman added. Maternal health, HIV/AIDS, and malaria are some of the specific focuses of the Millennium Development Goals.

 “Changing trends in development assistance for health will likely impact the availability of resources for drug and vaccine procurement, especially for the world’s poorest countries,” Dr. Dieleman said.

The research, which was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was published in The Lancet.

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