In this panel we explore issues around External Development Assistance and public expenditure, in particular in relation to the health sector. Although decreasing in its share to the overall health budget, Official Development Assistance (ODA) is a major source of health expenditure in Nepal. Beyond ODA, there has also been a significant increase in funding for health and development activities from private donors, including the Gates Foundation and others. This increase in scale and volume of funding in the health sector has been accompanied by an increase in the participation of various institutional actors and the introduction of new institutional arrangements for managing and spending resources, which has transformed the landscape of health sector development. While the discussion on the volume, trend and scale of external assistance in the health sector development is important, it does not capture the full complexity of these changes. Development aid is a part of transnational networks that tie global institutions, ideas, discourses and professionals to national and local places. They are institutional in that they link various international, national, local, governmental, non-governmental, for-profit and non-profit institutions, disciplines, technologies, knowledge systems and professionals. It involves a wide range of projects and programmes that deliver services, generate evidence through programmatic interventions, train and employ staff, and influence policy among others.

In this panel, we are interested in the social and political organisation of health financing and external development assistance in the health sector in Nepal. Questions to address may include the following: how has the financing of health sector and external development assistance in the health sector changed since 1990?; How is health financing and external assistance organised?; How does financial and technical assistance flow into the health sector in Nepal?; What institutions and institutional mechanisms are put in place to manage health financing and external assistance in the health sector?; Who implement projects and programmes on the ground? What do institutions, employees, consultants, and volunteers do when they manage programmes and projects or when they provide technical assistance?