Official Development Assistance (ODA) for Health and Total Contributions -
Exploring the Results of a Detailed and Comprehensive Analysis


Disadvantaged countries and populations critically need the cooperation from economically better-off states for confronting and coping with devastating health threats, such as the HIV epidemic. Accurate and reliable information on actual funding for human development and health promotion is indispensable in order to identify critical gaps, to foster democratic participation, to fight corruption and finally to develop effective strategies.

Therefore, we developed an independent research that is based on a critical review of the data reported by donors. Furthermore, our investigation takes into account all relevant aid activities and financing mechanisms. The study looks at the ODA contributions in support of health that were provided by the 17 European member states of the DAC/OECD. Regarding total ODA disbursements the analysis comprises all DAC members. For more information on the features and background of the study click here.

Note: ODA grant transfers are calculated and presented in a new way in order to reflect the concentration of ODA flows related to lending in middle income countries. For more detailed explanation click here. The analysis of total ODA flows in 2014 uses preliminary data published by DAC/OECD in April 2015. Due to the lack of data the figures for some components were calculated on the basis of trends observed in previous years. Click here for more details. As a new feature the annual repayments of interest on ODA loans were determined and considered in the calculation of relevant indicators, whereas official ODA figures only take into account the amortization of principal. The preliminary data published by DAC/OECD for 2014 do not provide figures for imputed student costs and costs for refugees, thus these indicators were calculated for all DAC members using data of previous years in the respective national currencies and applying the exchange rates corresponding to 2014. It is important to note that reported figures may change considerably when final data become available, as the experience for the previous years demonstrated.

Overview of methods and terms

Unlike most other approaches our research determined ODA disbursements for health in general and tackling specific health problems through a project by project review. This procedure comprises all health-relevant aid activities that were reported by European DAC countries and international organizations to the project-level information system of DAC/OECD, the CRS database. The main objective is to ensure that those and only those projects and components are included in the calculation, which coincide with the specific objectives and interventions defined in the respective resource needs estimates. Simultaneously, the review aims to correct for existing misclassifications and reporting errors changing sector and purpose indications made by donors, if necessary. Another important gain represents the prevention of double counting certain multilateral contributions. We also took into account other international agencies active in the health sector, which have not reported to the CRS database thus far.

The scrutiny of total ODA flows identifies and quantifies those items that do not represent actual transfers of financial or technical resources to developing countries, but are part of figures published by OECD. After deducting these questionable parts from OECD-accepted ODA volumes we obtain the real resource transfers that have the potential to promote human development in disadvantaged countries and regions. Furthermore, a clear distinction has to be made between ODA grants and lending in order to assess the real financial effort and to find out which resource flows can in principle - be allocated to countries and populations most in need. Therefore, we report the ODA flows made available in the form of grants as a separate category, which represents development aid in the stricter sense of the concept. Furthermore, the study attempts to determine the amounts received from developing countries due to loan repayments and grant recoveries in order to calculate the net transfers of ODA.

Through this study we hope to come closer to produce an accurate, complete and reliable picture of aid for human development and health promotion. This evidence constitutes a necessary element for the analysis of the existing financing gaps for the investments required to realize human rights and particularly the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being. Therefore, we plan to extend the investigation period and update the analysis when the required data become available.