Global Health Policy Case Study

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Does the influence of funding on global health policy priorities matter?

The impact of the ongoing global financial crisis

The global financial crisis (GFC), which began in 2008, prompted valid concerns that a financial crisis would result in a significant decline in donor aid and international efforts to address global health issues. (4) In previous financial crises, there had been a decline in donor commitments for official development assistance (ODA). This was observed in the current GFC along with a decrease in health expenditure of countries affected by recession. However, this did not occur across all states, the UK pledged to maintain commitments to ODA, whereas Italy and Ireland reduced their commitments; this action was seen in
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Instead, other diseases, namely HIV/AIDS were given priority. Since it emergence, HIV/AIDS has been at the forefront of the global health policy agenda receiving a significant amount of interest, funding and policy action that is disproportionate to the burden of the disease. (9) Despite issues such as; global health threats from other diseases, varying burdens of disease in different regions and the imperative need to strengthen health systems; the majority of donor aid is dedicated towards HIV/AIDS. For instance, during the re-emergence of tuberculosis as discussed previously; the 1992/93 tuberculosis budget for WHO was approximately $10 million compared to the Global Program on AIDS with a budget of $160 million. (15) In 2003, the Bush government introduced the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a five-year $15 billion plan and by 2006, 80% of the US budget for health and population aid was earmarked for HIV/AIDS. This shows HIV/AIDS has remained a global health policy priority of actors in global health for a considerable period of time despite other issues increasingly requiring policy attention.

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