Jennifer Goldsmith, Division of Global Health Equity
How much does the US government spend on foreign aid and what is the impact of that support? This question has taken on new urgency with the current administration’s proposals to dramatically reduce foreign spending. BWH researchers have taken the question of the impact of foreign health aid with results that should inform critical policy decisions around allocation.
BWH researchers, led by Dr. Vinay Gupta, of BWH Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, have studied the impact of US aid in healthcare on stabilizing fragile economies and found that in Sub-Saharan countries US health investments not only improve population health outcomes, but strengthen governance indices contemporaneously. Dr. Vin Gupta and his colleagues published their findings in Global Public Health on March 14, 2018. Their results demonstrated a novel finding: US health aid leads to immediate improvements in metrics of state stability across sub-Saharan Africa.
The Council on Foreign Relations, an independent, nonpartisan think tank, estimates that foreign aid accounted for roughly 1.3 percent of the federal budget in 2015 ($49 billion). Through another lens, the US spends 0.17 percent of GDP, twentieth out of twenty-eight countries measured by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom all spend more than 0.7 percent of GDP on foreign aid, which is the target set by the United Nations.
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