How BRICS can boost global health impact

A child receives vaccination against polio in India. Photo by: Ramesh Lalwani / CC BY-NC

While still minnows in terms of aid spending, emerging donors bring innovation and local experience that can help them carve a more significant role in the global health sector.

This is according to a new report exploring the now much-recognized rise of Brazil, Russia India, China and South Africa — or BRICS — as new sources of development finance. The report by Global Health Strategies initiatives focuses on BRICS’ contribution to global health efforts and looks at current and past trends in BRICS global health spending.

Each of the countries contributes uniquely to global health efforts, the report says. Brazil, for instance, has significantly contributed to and influenced global AIDS response while India has made strides in global polio eradication. China does not have a strong focus on health but has scaled up aid for malaria control efforts in Africa, the report says. The production of low-cost vaccines and medicines in BRICS countries also provides significant benefits to developing countries, it adds.

The report says emerging donors can increase their impact on global health efforts through coordinated action on the following areas: access to lifesaving vaccines, development of new tuberculosis tools and strategies, polio eradication, and efforts to control noncommunicable diseases and tobacco use.

The countries should also work jointly to strengthen regional disease surveillance networks and improve drug regulatory process, the report adds.

Further, the report compares the countries’ strategies with those employed by traditional donors such as the United States. It echoes findings from previous BRICS studies: Emerging donors favor South-South cooperation and approaches anchored on local programs and shaped by their own experiences. But like traditional donors, BRICS do take into account political and economic interests, the report says.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.