‘Solidarity tax’ on airline tickets boosts healthcare in developing countries

Mozambique has become the latest country to join UNITAID, a scheme that funds healthcare through innovative financing initiatives

Mozambique has become the latest country to join an international scheme that sees innovative financing initiatives, such as airplane levies, used to fund healthcare in developing countries.

The UNITAID initiative, hosted by the World Health Organisation, raises funds to fight diseases such as HIV and Aids, tuberculosis and malaria in the world’s poorest countries.

Mozambique will become the seventh African country to implement a levy on air travel and joins 29 other countries, including the UK, that contribute to UNITAID around the world.

UNITAID works with implementing partners such as UNICEF to provide affordable and accessible treatments in 94 developing countries, including Mozambique itself. The African country has already received over $40m (£26m), resulting in 25,000 children gaining access to HIV treatment.

Roughly half of UNITAID’s funding comes from airplane levies in member countries, where a small additional charge is added to the airfare on departing flights. In France – which first implemented the scheme in 2006 – this amounts to a charge of one euro on airfares for EC nationals. In France alone this ‘solidarity tax’ on aircraft tickets has raised over €1bn (£845m) since its inception.

UNITAID hopes to attract more contributing countries in the future. In an interview with yourolivebranch.org, chair of UNITAID Philippe Douste-Blazy said: “If you are a head of state, you should have a vision for your country of course, but also about your country in the world. That vision cannot continue to be selfish.”