Sweden’s Development Assistance for Health – Policy Options to Support the Global Health 2035 Goals

On December 3, 2013, the Lancet Commission on Investing in Health (CIH) published Global Health 2035: A World Converging within a Generation. The report laid out a series of opportunities for donors, low-income countries, and lower middle-income countries to achieve dramatic gains in health by 2035. With enhanced investments to scale up existing and new health interventions, and the systems to deliver them, most low-income countries and lower-middle-income countries could achieve a “grand convergence” in global health, reducing avertable infectious and child deaths down to levels seen today in the best-performing middle-income countries. Convergence could be funded by a combination of domestic and donor spending and a realignment of donor priorities. The report also argued that non-communicable diseases and injuries could be curbed through fiscal policies (e.g. taxation of tobacco, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages) and that pro-poor universal health coverage would be an efficient way to achieve health and financial protection.
Given these potential implications, the Swedish Expert Group for Aid Studies commissioned our study group to review Swedish development assistance for health in order to propose options that could enable Sweden to align its health aid with emerging needs and priorities and to potentially set an example for other donor organizations.
This commissioned analysis, a “policy options” paper, is intended to stimulate discussion and debate, rather than to be a prescriptive document for what Sweden should do or not. The analysis has 7 key messages:
1. Classifying development assistance for health by its functions helps to articulate the roles of health aid in the post-2015 era;
2. Swedish bilateral development assistance for health and multilateral development assistance for health mostly target local functions;
3. Economic growth means some countries may graduate from Swedish development assistance for health by 2035;
4. There are likely to be five key global health challenges for the period 2015-2035;
5. Sweden can play a key role in tackling these challenges, given its impacts and strengths in global health;
6. Significant additional Swedish development assistance for health is likely to be available from 2015 to 2035;
7. Investing this additional Swedish development assistance for health in specific global, local and “glocal” functions could help reach the Global Health 2035 goals.