A testament to the importance of supporting COVID-19 emergency response alongside public health commitments, the Strategic Fund plays a central role in health systems strengthening by leveraging technical cooperation to support the supply of essential and lifesaving health products across the Americas.
Washington, DC, July 9, 2021 (PAHO) – The last year and a half pushed health systems to their limits as countries around the world struggled to cope with surging cases of COVID-19. Latin America and the Caribbean were hit particularly hard, totaling over 70 million cases and 1.85 million deaths across all countries and territories in the region by the end of June 2021.
Despite the heavy toll of the pandemic on communities and vulnerable populations, the crisis has also highlighted examples of resilience and triumph in the face of extraordinary challenges. Key to this has been the role of multilateral health agencies, such as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), in supporting technical cooperation to simultaneously respond to COVID-19 while mitigating harmful disruptions to essential health services and priority health programs.
Ensuring access, affordability, and equity is critical to strong health systems; COVID-19 has shown how quickly progress toward universal access to health and universal health coverage can be reversed. Coordination and distribution of essential medicines and supplies are paramount during health emergencies. However, a combination of rising costs, lack of financial support, limited product availability, and inadequate quality control has made managing and optimizing these required resources increasingly challenging.
PAHO established the Strategic Fund in 2000 to improve access to quality-assured, safe, and effective medicines and supplies, and to strengthen the efficiency and sustainability of public health systems across the Americas. As the primary regional technical cooperation mechanism for the pooled procurement of therapeutics and public health products, the Strategic Fund contributes to countries’ commitments in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by addressing critical gaps in universal health.
With growing needs for Member States to maintain the availability of essential health services and technologies amidst complex challenges such as COVID-19, the Strategic Fund has risen to meet increasing demands. The PAHO Strategic Fund is pleased to launch its 2020 Annual Report in a uniquely difficult year. By documenting the program’s technical cooperation in balancing emergency response with priority public health commitments across the Americas, the PAHO Strategic Fund aims to highlight the central role of pooled procurement mechanisms in strengthening health systems to support the supply of essential and lifesaving health products.
Key highlights from the 2020 report:
- 34 countries and territories and 13 health agencies participating
- $235 million worth of medicines and supplies ordered
- Over 29 million people supported
- 20.5 million people supported by essential medicines, supplies, and diagnostic tests
- $110 million worth of COVID-19 tests, PPE, and critical care medicines
- Over 14.4 million health workers and patients reached in COVID-19 response
- Over 410 products offered
- Over $39 million in credit lines extended to help 16 Member States pay for essential medicines and supplies
- Capital Account amounted to $24 million (an 18% increase over 2019)
- Utilization rate of over 150% of the Capital Account
- Through interprogrammatic work, averted stockouts of:
- antimalarials in 14 countries;
- antituberculosis treatments in 12 countries;
- antiretrovirals in 2 countries.
In her forward to the report, PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne summarized the report by noting
“This year, the Strategic Fund has demonstrated what is possible when we work closely with Member States in the spirit of solidarity and Pan-Americanism, and in the pursuit of health for all.”