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Publication date: 
April 23, 2021


In 2017, development assistance for health (DAH) comprised 5.3% of total health spending in low-income countries. Despite the key role DAH plays in global health-spending, little is known about the characteristics of assistance that may be associated with committed assistance that is actually disbursed. In this analysis, we examine associations between these characteristics and disbursement of committed assistance.


We extracted data from the Creditor Reporting System of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, and the WHO National Health Accounts database. Factors examined were off-budget assistance, administrative assistance, publicly sourced assistance and assistance to health systems strengthening. Recipient-country characteristics examined were perceived level of corruption, civil fragility and gross domestic product per capita (GDPpc). We used linear regression methods for panel of data to assess the proportion of committed aid that was disbursed for a given country-year, for each data source.


Factors that were associated with a higher disbursement rates include off-budget aid (p<0.001), lower administrative expenses (p<0.01), lower perceived corruption in recipient country (p<0.001), lower fragility in recipient country (p<0.05) and higher GDPpc (p<0.05).


Substantial gaps remain between commitments and disbursements. Characteristics of assistance (administrative, publicly sourced) and indicators of government transparency and fragility are also important drivers associated with disbursement of DAH. There remains a continued need for better aid flow reporting standards and clarity around aid types for better measurement of DAH.


Moitra M, Cogswell I, Maddison E, Simpson K, Stutzman H, Tsakalos G, Dieleman J, Micah AE. Factors associated with the disbursements of development assistance for health in low-income and middle-income countries, 2002–2017. BMJ Global Health. 23 April 2021. doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2020-004858.