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Global health

United Nations reveals gap in funding for health needs as it steps up appeal for funds

Just 22% of an estimated $2.2bn in funding requested by the UN to meet the health needs of the victims of emergencies has been met. Richard Brennan (pictured) says competing demands for aid funds is contributing to the big gap in the health cluster

Source: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Donor fatigue and competing demands for aid is contributing to the big gap in the funding for health, says Richard Brennan, director of the World Health Organization’s department of emergency risk management and humanitarian response

Health needs loom large in the revised United Nations 2015 global humanitarian appeal seeking US$19.6bn in funds from donors to reach 82.5 million people who are victims in 37 emergencies around the world. However, to date only 22% of an estimated US$2.2bn requested for health needs —ranging from vaccines to medicines for chronic diseases, and support for hospitals and clinics — have been funded, concerned World Health Organization and UN relief officials say.

Overall, only about 27% of the total needs of the UN appeal has been fully funded.

“While donors give more generously every year, the gap between funds needed and funds provided continues to widen,” says Stephen O’Brien, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator. “This raises questions about our ability to continue to meet affected people’s needs,” he says.

Richard Brennan, director of the World Health Organization’s department of emergency risk management and humanitarian response, says donor fatigue and competing demands for aid is contributing to the big gap in the funding for health.

For a variety of cultural, political, strategic, or social reasons, say UN officials, some emergencies are funded by donors more than others.

UN aid data reveal that 67.5% of the health needs of South Sudan have been funded but only 18.6% of those of neighbouring Central African Republic. Similarly, in Yemen, only 10.7% of health needs have been funded, Ukraine 9.4%, Somalia 8.5%, and in the protracted conflicts in Afghanistan and Syria, 28% and 20.2%, respectively.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20068824

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