Donor aid mentioning newborns and stillbirths, 2002–19: an analysis of levels, trends, and equity

Meghan Bruce Kumar*, David Bath, Peter Binyaruka, Jacob Novignon, Joy E. Lawn, Catherine Pitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: Global aid for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health has stagnated in recent years, and aid mentioning newborns or stillbirths has previously represented a very small proportion of aid for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health. Neonatal survival targets have been set by 78 countries, and stillbirth prevention targets have been set by 30 countries, to address the 4·4 million newborn deaths and stillbirths globally. We aimed to generate novel estimates of current levels of, and trends in, aid mentioning newborns and stillbirths over 2002–19, and to assess whether the amount of aid disbursed aligns with the associated mortality burden. 

Methods: For this analysis, we did a manual review and coding of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)'s Creditor Reporting System database from 2002 to 2019 using key search terms for aid mentioning newborns and stillbirths. We compared these findings with estimates of aid for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health for 2002–19 based on the Muskoka2 method. Findings are presented in 2019 US$ according to the OECD's Development Assistance Committee deflators, which account for variation in exchange rates and inflation in donor countries. 

Findings: We identified 21 957 unique records in the 2002–19 period. Aid mentioning newborns and stillbirths comprised approximately 10% ($1·6 billion) of reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health funding overall in 2019 ($15·9 billion), with a small decrease in value between 2015 and 2019. 1284 (6%) of 21 957 records and 3·4% ($535 million) of their total value mentioned aid focused only on newborn health. Ten donors contributed 87% ($13·7 billion) of the total value of aid mentioning newborns and stillbirths during 2002–19. Aid mentioning newborns and stillbirths was inequitably allocated in the least developed countries (as defined by the UN), ranging from $18 per death in Angola to $1389 per death in Timor-Leste. Stillbirths were not mentioned in any funding in 2002–09, and they were only mentioned in 46 of 21 957 records in 2010–19, comprising $44·4 million of aid disbursed during this period. 

Interpretation: Aid mentioning newborns and stillbirths is poorly matched to their corresponding mortality burden (representing 10% of aid for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health overall, yet accounting for approximately 50% of mortality in children <5 years) and across recipient countries (with substantial variation in the amount of aid received per newborn death and stillbirth between countries with similar health and economic needs). Our findings indicate that aid needs to be better targeted to populations with the highest mortality burdens, creating greater potential for impact. 

Funding: John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ELMA Philanthropies, Children's Investment Fund Foundation UK, Lemelson Foundation, and Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation. Translation: For the French translation of the abstract see Supplementary Materials section.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1785-e1793
Number of pages9
JournalThe Lancet Global Health
Volume11
Issue number11
Early online date17 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes

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