There has been increasing global interest in documenting funding flows for health, but none of that work has focused on the Pacific region. This paper outlines external funding for two specific areas of overseas development assistance (ODA) for health in the region—HIV/AIDS and non-communicable diseases (NCDs)— during 2002-09. These are compared to the comparative disease burdens, and some initial thoughts are presented on the dynamics of setting donor health priorities in the Pacific.
Empirical data shows that, despite much higher mortality rates from NCDs, external funding for HIV is higher than for NCDs. From 2002 to 2009, funding totalled US$68,481,730 for HIV and US$32,910,778 for NCDs. External assistance for HIV activities in the Pacific in 2009 was more than US$18 million, while funding for NCDs in the same year was almost US$12 million.
Despite cooperation from many agencies, the funding data were difficult to gather, highlighting the need for greater transparency of funding information and more thorough record keeping. The external funding does not align with the disease and mortality figures, and further interviews suggested that donor funding decisions in the region are driven not by local priorities but by factors including a strong global HIV community, the commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the lack of coherence in the way NCDs are presented to policy makers.