Issue Deep Dive


Last updated: April 25, 2023

ODA Spending

ODA in Context

The UK is the third-largest government donor to global health in absolute terms, after the US and Germany. ODA for health represented 15% of the UK’s total ODA in 2021. This puts the UK in line with the DAC average of 15% and makes it the tenth-largest donor to health in relative terms.

The UK’s ODA to health declined significantly in 2021, after rising in recent years, due to the reduction in the overall ODA budget.

ODA Breakdown

Bilateral Spending

The UK provided US$1.1 billion (47% of health ODA) as bilateral funding and US$229 million (9%) as earmarked funding through multilaterals. The total US$1.4 billion spent on bilateral funding to health in 2021 is a large 36% cut from the 2020 figure of US$2.2 billion. The UK’s bilateral health efforts focused on medical research, COVID-19 response, infectious disease control, family planning, and health policy and administrative management.

Multilateral Spending and Commitments

The UK is a strong supporter of multilateral health initiatives. In 2021, the UK contributed 44%, or US$1.1 billion, of its ODA for health through core contributions to multilaterals ( DAC average: 30%).

Funding & Policy Outlook

Concerns around multilateral health spending: Going forward, global health will remain a policy priority for UK development assistance but is likely to face financing pressures, as the UK’s ODA budget remains below 0.7% of GNI and other spending areas compete for resources.

Renewed vision on global health: In December 2021, the FCDO published two new policy papers on global health, outlining its agenda on strengthening health systems and ending preventable deaths, which will remain core priorities for UK development assistance moving forward. The papers do not, however, set out any financial commitments or specific results targets, except contributing to relevant UN SDGs.

The 2023 Integrated Review refresh commits the UK to work at the international level to broker more ambitious international agreements on pandemic preparedness and response, strengthen health systems, drive more equitable access to affordable vaccines, drugs and diagnostics, and tackle antimicrobial resistance in 2023. It also commits the UK to strengthen a One Health approach.

Key Bodies

Global health R&D is also important to addressing many of the global health challenges that disproportionately affect the world’s most disadvantaged people. For more information on how donor countries are supporting global health R&D across three main areas — 1) EIDs; 2) PRNDs; and 3) SRH — read the excellent G-Finder reports and explore the interactive data portal created by Policy Cures Research. Not all funding mentioned in these analyses qualifies as ODA.

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Adam Jennison

Adam Jennison

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