Countdown to 2015: changes in official development assistance to maternal, newborn, and child health in 2009-10, and assessment of progress since 2003

Lancet. 2012 Sep 29;380(9848):1157-68. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61415-9. Epub 2012 Sep 21.


Background: Tracking of financial resources to maternal, newborn, and child health provides crucial information to assess accountability of donors. We analysed official development assistance (ODA) flows to maternal, newborn, and child health for 2009 and 2010, and assessed progress since our monitoring began in 2003.

Methods: We coded and analysed all 2009 and 2010 aid activities from the database of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, according to a functional classification of activities and whether all or a proportion of the value of the disbursement contributed towards maternal, newborn, and child health. We analysed trends since 2003, and reported two indicators for monitoring donor disbursements: ODA to child health per child and ODA to maternal and newborn health per livebirth. We analysed the degree to which donors allocated ODA to 74 countries with the highest maternal and child mortality rates (Countdown priority countries) with time and by type of donor.

Findings: Donor disbursements to maternal, newborn, and child health activities in all countries continued to increase, to $6511 million in 2009, but slightly decreased for the first time since our monitoring started, to $6480 million in 2010. ODA for such activities to the 74 Countdown priority countries continued to increase in real terms, but its rate of increase has been slowing since 2008. We identified strong evidence that targeting of ODA to countries with high rates of maternal mortality improved from 2005 to 2010. Targeting of ODA to child health also improved but to a lesser degree. The share of multilateral funding continued to decrease but, relative to bilaterals and global health initiatives, was better targeted.

Interpretation: The recent slowdown in the rate of funding increases is worrying and likely to partly result from the present financial crisis. Tracking of donor aid should continue, to encourage donor accountability and to monitor performance in targeting aid flows to those in most need.

Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; World Bank; Governments of Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and the UK.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Health Services / economics*
  • Child Health Services / trends
  • Child Mortality
  • Child Welfare / trends
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries / economics
  • Female
  • Financial Support
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • International Cooperation*
  • Maternal Health Services / economics*
  • Maternal Health Services / trends
  • Maternal Welfare / trends
  • Perinatal Care / economics
  • Perinatal Care / trends