Estimating total spending by source of funding on routine and supplementary immunisation activities in low-income and middle-income countries, 2000–17: a financial modelling study

Published November 4, 2021, in The Lancet (opens in a new window)


Childhood immunisation is one of the most cost-effective health interventions. However, despite its known value, global access to vaccines remains far from complete. Although supply-side constraints lead to inadequate vaccine coverage in many health systems, there is no comprehensive analysis of the funding for immunisation. We aimed to fill this gap by generating estimates of funding for immunisation disaggregated by the source of funding and the type of activities in order to highlight the funding landscape for immunisation and inform policy making.


For this financial modelling study, we estimated annual spending on immunisations for 135 low-income and middle-income countries (as determined by the World Bank) from 2000 to 2017, with a focus on government, donor, and out-of-pocket spending, and disaggregated spending for vaccines and delivery costs, and routine schedules and supplementary campaigns. To generate these estimates, we extracted data from National Health Accounts, the WHO–UNICEF Joint Reporting Forms, comprehensive multi-year plans, databases from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation's 2019 development assistance for health database. We estimated total spending on immunisation by aggregating the government, donor, prepaid private, and household spending estimates.


Between 2000 and 2017, funding for immunisation totalled US$112·4 billion (95% uncertainty interval 108·5–118·5). Aggregated across all low-income and middle-income countries, government spending consistently remained the largest source of funding, providing between 60·0% (57·7–61·9) and 79·3% (73·8–81·4) of total immunisation spending each year (corresponding to between $2·5 billion [2·3–2·8] and $6·4 billion [6·0–7·0] each year). Across income groups, immunisation spending per surviving infant was similar in low-income and lower-middle-income countries and territories, with average spending of $40 (38–42) in low-income countries and $42 (39–46) in lower-middle-income countries, in 2017. In low-income countries and territories, development assistance made up the largest share of total immunisation spending (69·4% [64·6–72·0]; $630·2 million) in 2017. Across the 135 countries, we observed higher vaccine coverage and increased government spending on immunisation over time, although in some countries, predominantly in Latin America and the Caribbean and in sub-Saharan Africa, vaccine coverage decreased over time, while spending increased.


These estimates highlight the progress over the past two decades in increasing spending on immunisation. However, many challenges still remain and will require dedication and commitment to ensure that the progress made in the previous decade is sustained and advanced in the next decade for the Immunization Agenda 2030.

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Ikilezi G, Micah AE, Bachmeier SD, Cogswell IE, Maddison ER, Stutzman HN, Tsakalos G, Brenzel L, Dieleman JL. Estimating total spending by source of funding on routine and supplementary immunisation activities in low-income and middle-income countries, 2000–17: a financial modelling study. The Lancet. 4 November 2021. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)01591-9.