Finance 101: Funding Global Health

Greg Olson

Communications Senior Associate

This week, global leaders from around the world descended upon Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the “Financing for Development” conference. The third meeting of its kind, this conference provides an opportunity for a broad group of stakeholders—from high-level political leaders, non-governmental organizations, private enterprises, and more—to discuss new and emerging issues surrounding global funding for development ahead of the United Nations’ September 2015 summit to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Earlier this year, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington published their annual report on the state of global health financing, "Financing Global Health 2014: Shifts in Funding as the MDG Era Closes." According to the the IHME's research, the world has invested more than $200 billion U.S. dollars toward improving global health since 2000; however, the report also highlighted a stagnation and slight decline in funding in recent years.

Under the cloud of Eurozone debt crises and lingering in the shadow of the global economic crisis, the argument for “crowding in” local resources—encouraging private investment by domestic financial institutions—in low- and middle-income countries is a key function of the Global Financing Facility and will inevitably be involved in the discussions. While this is a reasonable argument and an important discussion amongst the global donor community, the underlying truth facing many sub-national health leaders and managers is this: it does not matter where the money comes from if the implementing institutions are not prepared to receive funds or effectively allocate the resources.

Score range table for the NUPAS financial assessment tool.

Poor or inefficient financial management has implications for scaling service delivery and overall health system resilience. In order to address these challenges, training health system leaders and managers on effective financial management is a key part of the Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project’s ongoing technical assistance. For example, the LMG Project conducted ten financial capacity workshops for staff from the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Member Associations in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, and Uganda.

Financial capacity building leads to $72 million USAID-funded award for IPPF Africa. (Photo Credit: MSH)

With nearly 100 participants, the workshops trained staff on skills necessary to bid on and manage U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awards in order to strengthen IPPF and their member associations’ capacity to improve family planning and reproductive health outcomes. After participating in these trainings in 2013, IPPF won a $72 million USAID-funded award in 2014.

Similarly, equipping a modern health workforce with necessary financial management skills is an important part of preparing health workers to assume leadership and management roles during their careers, and strengthening their organizations’ ability to deliver health services to traditionally underserved populations. That is why the LMG Project, with support from LMG Consortium partner Amref Health Africa, is working with six universities in southern Africa to integrate leadership, management, and governance practices—such as effective financial management—into health workers’ pre-service curricula.

As austerity measures continue to gain popularity among world leaders, international support and funding for development and public health seems likely plateau or decline. Increased competition for international grants and a renewed focus upon local funding means that now, more than ever, organizations and health workers will need the financial management skills necessary to write compelling bids and manage award funding in order to ensure they can continue to deliver essential health services.

Check out our financial management tools and resources—in a variety of languages—on our “Tools and Resources” page.

Be sure to follow @LMGforHealth on Twitter and like the Leadership, Management, and Governance Project on Facebook.