PAHO helped procure 10 million PCR diagnostic tests for COVID-19 for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean

 PCR diagnostic tests for COVID-19

Through international procurement, PAHO’s Strategic Fund played a vital role in COVID-19 response, also buying face shields, masks, gloves, gowns and respirators and ensuring continuing supplies of quality equipment

Washington, DC, August 6, 2020 (PAHO) – The Pan American Health Organization has leveraged the Strategic Fund for  Public Health Supplies to procure and distribute millions of COVID-19 diagnostic kits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), and other essential health supplies to countries throughout the Americas, a new report shows.

The Strategic Fund procured some USD$75 million worth of COVID-19 PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests for 6 countries, working with suppliers to purchase, deliver and distribute the supplies. So far, over 10 million PCR tests have been sent to 6 countries. The fund also obtained PPEs including face shields, gloves, goggles, gowns, masks and respirators for 26 countries, valued at USD14.6 million.

Technical cooperation and pooled procurement form an important part of the Organization’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has spread to all 54 countries and territories in the Americas and has resulted in more than 9.9 million confirmed cases and over 372,000 deaths to date.

The PAHO Strategic Fund was established in 2000 to improve access to essential medicines and strategic public health supplies and has facilitated the procurement of millions of lifesaving treatments for a variety of diseases – including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, diabetes, and hepatitis C. Currently, 34 countries and territories in the Americas participate in the Strategic Fund, which is helping countries acquire quality-assured, essential medicines and public health supplies at competitive prices through transparent international bidding processes so as to increase access to quality health products for Member States.

PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne recently stated, “Health emergencies are on the rise and programs like the PAHO Strategic Fund are critical for ensuring health systems that are resilient to outbreaks and other public health threats.”

The fund helps countries in the Americas “address new challenges by guaranteeing the continuous and efficient supply of essential medicines and health technologies in priority areas of both communicable and noncommunicable diseases,” she added.

“Because of the Fund’s effectiveness in facilitating enhanced supply chain management of critical public health supplies, we have signed participating agreements with 34 countries and territories, and developed new partnerships with pivotal health agencies, the PAHO director said.

The Strategic Fund provides medicines and supplies included in the World Health Organization (WHO) Model List of Essential Medicines to strengthen priority public health programs for communicable and noncommunicable diseases, and neglected tropical diseases.

Together with the Strategic Fund, PAHO’s Regional Warehouse in Panama managed the distribution in 2019 of 235,840 Chagas treatments to 9 countries, 119,920 antimalarial treatments to 16 countries, in order to strengthen priority public health programs. Through inter-programmatic efforts, the fund also provided capacity building initiatives to strengthen Member States’ demand forecasting, inventory planning and supply chain management capabilities.


Ashley Baldwin