Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Germany are spending at least 0.7% of their gross national income (GNI) on development aid, Belgium only 0.49%. 0.7% is the minimum to which Belgium has committed itself internationally and in its coalition agreement. Within development aid expenditure, the government should spend at least 15% on health, including sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Restraints in Belgium’s support for the uptake of HIV
The direct expenditure for the uptake of HIV and AIDS dropped by 17%, from €15.6 million to €12.9 million. The majority of the expenditure in the health sector would be beneficial to the uptake of HIV though. However, attention for HIV in other sectors, such as education, infrastructure or agriculture dropped from €305 million to €284 million in expenditure that would also benefit the uptake of HIV. All this while for countries with high HIV-prevalence rates, a multi-sectoral approach to the epidemic is the only effective and sustainable answer. Sensoa thus recommends increasing the expenditure for the uptake of HIV and not to limit attention for HIV to the health sector.
Lack of transparency in Belgium’s support
72% of all expenditure in the health sectors would be contributing to some degree to ‘reproductive health, maternal, neonatal and child health’ (RMNCH), as indicated by the RMNCH marker. The share of expenditure benefiting RMNCH increased substantially, up from 55% in 2015. A positive development indeed. Most projects and programmes only contribute 25% to RMNCH. Thus, the relative weight of the theme puts the figures into perspective. Projects and programmes that have RMNCH as their primary target remain limited. They account for €11 million or 7.8% of the total expenditure for health and reproductive health in 2016.
While the RMNCH marker gives us an indication of the attention for reproductive health, it remains difficult to concretely assess how much Belgium supports access to contraception, prevention of sexually transmittable infections and HIV, comprehensive sexuality education and other essential dimensions of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Sensoa asks the Belgian development cooperation to improve the mapping of its specific expenditure for these themes and to demonstrate its achievements as regards sexual and reproductive health and rights, family planning in particular.
Sexual and reproductive health in crisis
In humanitarian crises there is a need for information and awareness around sexual and reproductive health and rights. In crises, people often lack essential services that protect them from unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmittable infections and sexual violence. It is positive that 60% of the humanitarian aid is earmarked to contribute to RMNCH, yet, here too we lack information as to what this implies concretely in terms of support for sexual and reproductive health.
The full report is available in Dutch and French.