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Publication date: 
March 19, 2015


Development assistance for health (DAH) has grown substantially, totaling more than $31.3 billion in 2013. However, the degree that countries with high concentrations of armed conflict, ethnic violence, inequality, debt, and corruption have received this health aid and how that assistance might be different from the funding provided to other countries has not been assessed.


We combine DAH estimates and a multidimensional fragile states index for 2005 through 2011. We disaggregate and compare total DAH disbursed for fragile states versus stable states.


Between 2005 and 2011, DAH per person in fragile countries increased at an annualized rate of 5.4%. In 2011 DAH to fragile countries totaled $6.2 billion, which is $5.05 per person. This is 43% of total DAH that is traced to a country. Comparing low-income countries, funding channeled to fragile countries was $7.22 per person while stable countries received $11.15 per person. Relative to stable countries, donors preferred to provide more funding to low-income fragile countries that have refugees or ongoing external intervention but tended to avoid providing funding to countries with political gridlock, flawed elections, or economic decline. In 2011, Ethiopia received the most health aid of all fragile countries, while the United States provided the most funds to fragile countries.


In 2011, 1.2 billion people lived in fragile countries. DAH can bolster health systems and might be especially valuable in providing long-term stability in fragile environments. While external health funding to these countries has increased since 2005, it is, in per person terms, almost half as much as the DAH provided to stable countries of comparable income levels.


Graves CM, Haakenstad A, Dieleman JL. Tracking development assistance for health to fragile states: 2005–2011. Globalization and Health. 2015 March 19; 11:12. doi:10.1186/s12992-015-0097-9.