Nearly all countries of Latin America and the Caribbean purchase vaccines and syringes through the PAHO fund, which helps assure quality, price and supply
Washington, D.C., 26 April 2012 (PAHO/WHO) — The vast majority of vaccines being used in Latin America and the Caribbean during the 10th annual Vaccination Week in the Americas, 21 to 28 April 2012, were acquired through a special Revolving Fund set up by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).
The PAHO Revolving Fund provides countries and territories with guarantees of quality, safety and adequate supplies of these products, as well as lower prices.
This year marks the initiative's 10th anniversary of Vaccination Week in the Americas, which is the largest multinational health initiative in the hemisphere. In addition, more than 180 countries and regions worldwide are participating this year in the first-ever World Immunization Week.
The countries of the Americas this week plan to reach some 44 million people with vaccines against diseases including polio, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome, measles, diphtheria, mumps, whooping cough, neonatal tetanus, influenza and yellow fever.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, vaccines are provided free of charge to the public through each country's national immunization program.
Thirty-nine countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean participate in the PAHO Revolving Fund, which was created 33 years ago. The vast majority of countries use their own resources to acquire the vaccines, syringes and other needed products, thus ensuring the sustainability of their immunization programs.
"A country that purchases through the Revolving Fund can save at least 11% in comparison to direct purchases from the producers," noted PAHO Director Dr. Mirta Roses Periago.
In 1979, its first year, the PAHO Revolving Fund acquired six antigens for eight countries and territories. By 2011, coverage had increased to 28 antigens (in more than 40 different formulations) for 39 countries and territories. Over the same period, total purchases grew from US$2.3 million to US$405 million last year.
To ensure equity of access, prices are the same for all participating countries, that is, a country purchasing a dozen doses of a vaccine pays the same rate as a country purchasing 10 million doses. By purchasing through the Revolving Fund, countries agree to use vaccines and syringes that are prequalified under WHO standards of safety and effectiveness.
Participation in the Fund requires advanced planning of annual demand to facilitate placement of a single regional order for each product, which in turn helps lower prices through economies of scale. The process also ensures compliance with appropriate conditions, rules and procedures established by the Fund.
Each participating country contributes 3.5% of the net value of their purchases to a common fund. Of this contribution, 3% is reserved as working capital, to be able to offer a line of credit to Member States that need it, and 0.5% is used to defray administrative costs. The line of credit makes it possible for a country to be billed by the Fund for payment 60 days after it receives its products, helping maximize the use of national resources in procuring vaccines.
Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective interventions in public health and prevents an estimated 2—3 million deaths each year worldwide.
PAHO, established in 1902, is the oldest public health organization in the world. It works with all countries in the hemisphere of the Americas to improve the health and the quality of the life of the peoples of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO.