Today, the Global Financing Facility held the replenishment for its Trust Fund in Oslo. Norway and Burkina Faso hosted the event, alongside the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The UK government kept us all waiting but, in Oslo, announced £50m for the GFF from 2020 onwards, and importantly, called for the GFF to be more transformational to have an impact on the long-term sustainability of health systems.
The GFF is potentially a very different type of financing, as we have written before. It includes an element of traditional aid – of which $1 billion was pledged today, linked with better use of World Bank preferential loans and grants. But crucially, as was the main focus of a pre-meeting yesterday, it aims to link these with much bigger increases in domestic resources for health and nutrition from low and middle-income countries. Domestic resources are, of course, already the main funding for health in low and middle income countries, but far too much of this comes from the pockets of the poor when they need urgent health care. Public financing is essential to counteract this and Save the Children believes this should be the main focus, especially in helping countries raise more funding through fair taxation.
The UK representative, Darren Welch, pointed out the UK’s long commitment to women’s and children’s health, including maternity services and safe abortion. He also called for the GFF to be more transformational, to ensure that it focuses on domestic resources, helping countries to fund their own health services in the long-term, and to involve the private sector.
The UK has a long and proud history of supporting health systems, including in the period when this was much less fashionable. UK aid is helping countries like Rwanda and Ethiopia to reform their tax systems, in line with Penny Mordaunt’s call that “countries need to put their hands in their own pockets” more. Now in the era of Universal Health Coverage, the UK’s involvement in the GFF is badly-needed to ensure the right focus on the long-term sustainability of health systems in developing countries. The UK also needs to give leadership in advance of the UN High-Level Meeting on UHC in September next year so ensure countries can report real progress in time for 2030. This is why Save the Children is calling for aid, from the UK and others, to be transformative for long-term change children around the world.