Intended for healthcare professionals


UK foreign aid cuts and global health

BMJ 2023; 382 doi: (Published 19 September 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;382:p2075
  1. Wenhui Mao, assistant director, programmes1,
  2. Annalisa Prizzon, principal research fellow2,
  3. Yewande Ogundeji, principal3
  1. 1Duke Global Health Innovation Center and the Center for Policy Impact in Global Health, Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
  2. 2ODI, London, UK
  3. 3Health Strategy and Delivery Foundation, Maitama, Abuja, Nigeria
  1. Corresponding author: Wenhui Mao wenhui.mao{at}

Restoration essential to stem irreversible harm to the world’s most vulnerable populations

The UK government used to be a leading financier of international development aid and shaper of aid policy. But after a rapid rise in public spending in 2021, it tried to balance its books by temporarily lowering its commitment from 0.7% (the United Nations target) to 0.5% of gross national income. It phased out aid for 102 territories—nearly a quarter of which were fragile or in conflict. The remaining 34 recipients of aid received less support.12 Furthermore, in 2022 nearly a third of the total aid budget (£3.7bn) was spent on hosting refugees in the UK, a bill that more than tripled in a year, squeezing other areas of development cooperation even further.3

Until 2020, the UK was the second largest donor to health programmes. Its 2022 international development strategy continued to prioritise global health,4 but the UK’s spending on the health sector halved from $1.5bn in 2020 to $763m in 2021.5 In low income countries, external aid covered a third of total health expenditures, indicating their dependency on donors and vulnerability to aid policy …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription