Vast majority of development assistance for health funds target those below age 60

Published May 1, 2017, in Health Affairs (opens in a new window)


Development assistance for health targets younger more than older age groups, relative to their disease burden. This disparity increased between 1990 and 2013. There are several potential causes for the disparity increase.

Since 1990, development assistance for health to low- and middle-income countries to improve health has more than quadrupled, reaching $36.4 billion US dollars in 2015. Despite this remarkable growth, numerous mechanisms are in place that could make development assistance for health less than responsive to changes in the population structure or underlying disease burden of recipient countries. Against the background of ongoing demographic and epidemiological transitions that shift the burden of disease toward people in older age groups, it is important to assess which age groups benefit the most from the assistance.

We investigated the benefits from development assistance for health by age group. We studied to what extent older age groups benefit less from the assistance compared to younger ones and why this is the case. Our findings regarding development assistance for health in 2013 by age group and health focus area are discussed in detail below.

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Skirbekk V, Ottersen T, Hamavid H, Sadat N, Dieleman JL. Vast majority of development assistance for health funds target those below age sixty. Health Affairs. 2017 May; 36(5):926-930. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.1370.


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