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Policy Brief n°8: How investing today can reduce the need for aid tomorrow: health as a case study

Published 8 May 2021 in Analysis

Official development assistance (ODA) is regularly criticised for being unnecessary, or ineffective. However, when it comes to addressing health challenges in developing countries, there is widespread support for the provision of funding to the poorest.

In this way, the perception of effectiveness or "value for money" can be correlated to certain sectors where ODA is seen as a worthwhile investment now, to reduce further spending in the future. This is the case for global health aid, which is one of the best possible investments in terms of a cost-benefit assessment.

According to the experts of The Lancet’s "Investing in Health" commission, every dollar invested generates an economic return of of 9-20 dollars in developing and middle-income countries.

An excellent example is the fall in costs for vaccinations thanks to donor investment in a new global vaccine initiative, GAVI.

The same is true of global pandemics, where investing now in prevention and treatment of diseases (such as HIV) can help avoid much higher human and economic costs further down the line. Or polio: according to figures from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), completely eradicating polio would save between 40 and 50 billion USD in health costs and from loss of productivity. And yet, according to the World Health Organisation, a lack of political will for a final push might mean that the few dozen remaining cases of polio a year could rise to 200,000 annually within the next ten years.

You can download the Policy Brief n°8 in French here. An English translation is forthcoming.

Documents to download

Note d’analyse n°8 : Investir dans l’aide publique au développement pour réduire les dépenses à venir, l’exemple de l’aide en santé