Estimating Chinese bilateral aid for health: an analysis of AidData's Global Chinese Official Finance Dataset Version 2.0.

Conference Paper


Although it is difficult to quantify, previous estimates suggested that China's global health aid has increased sharply since the early 2000s. Unlike many donors, China has no official aid reporting obligations, nor does it voluntarily disclose detailed aid information. Our study aimed to create a standardised estimate using commonly accepted definitions of aid and frameworks for categorising health projects.


We categorised AidData's Chinese Official Finance Dataset health-related projects according to health aid frameworks from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). Only projects that complied with the definition of official development assistance were included. We analysed the project count and financial value to assess China's priority health aid areas.


Between 2000 and 2017, China funded 1339 health-related aid projects, or 13% of its total aid project portfolio. Most of these projects were located in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the OECD framework, the priority focus areas of these projects were: medical services, such as specialty equipment and tertiary services (n=489, 37%); basic health care, such as basic medical services and drugs (n=251, 19%); malaria control (n=234, 18%) and basic health infrastructure (n=178, 13%). Under the IHME framework, health systems strengthening accounted for 74% (n=991) of total projects, primarily due to China's contributions to human resources for health, infrastructure and equipment. The only other major allocation under the IHME framework was malaria (n=234, 18%). When we estimated missing financial values under the OECD framework, China was the fifth largest health aid donor to African countries from 2002 to 2017, after the USA, the UK, Canada and Germany.


Our findings enable a better understanding of Chinese health aid in the absence of transparent aid reporting, which could contribute to better coordination, collaboration and resource allocation for both donor and recipient countries.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • McDade, KK; Kleidermacher, P; Yamey, G; Mao, W

Published Date

  • December 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 7 / 12

Start / End Page

  • e010408 -

PubMed ID

  • 36460324

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9723905

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2059-7908

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2059-7908

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1136/bmjgh-2022-010408