Representatives of Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) member countries today discussed options for maintaining support from the GAVI Alliance for acquisition of new vaccines, strengthening health systems and other vaccine-related interventions in six countries that have been benefiting from this support.

The discussions took place during the 28th Pan American Sanitary Conference, which is being held this week at PAHO headquarters, in Washington D.C.

Four countries in the Americas—Bolivia, Cuba, Guyana and Honduras—began a "graduation process" in 2011, when their gross national income surpassed US$1,500 per capita, the threshold for GAVI eligibility. GAVI support for their national immunization programs is scheduled to be phased out over the next four years.

From 2000 to -2012, the GAVI Alliance provided US$62 million in support for vaccination programs for these four countries and for Nicaragua and Haiti, which continue to be eligible for GAVI support.

Country representatives noted that despite their new status as "graduating countries," they continue to face important challenges in maintaining the strong performance of their national immunization programs. They called on GAVI to explore different options for continued support. Some countries face a simultaneous phase-out of the resources from the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, making the transition particularly challenging in the current economic climate.

Representatives of both beneficiary countries and GAVI acknowledged the positive impact of PAHO's technical support on GAVI programs in the region and the importance of procurement of GAVI-supported vaccines through the PAHO Revolving Fund. 

In addition to government representatives, participants in today's discussions included PAHO Deputy Director Jon Andrus, GAVI Managing Director of Policy and Performance Nina Schwalbe, and Board Representative for Developing Countries of the Americas and Europe at GAVI Guillermo Gonzalez.

PAHO Member States meet annually with GAVI during the PAHO Directing Council, which is held most years, or the Pan American Sanitary Conference, which is held every five years.