Delegates to the 52nd Directing Council passed a resolution endorsing the time-honored mechanisms and procedures of the PAHO Revolving Fund for Vaccine Procurement, including its policy to ensure that vaccines purchase through the Fund are acquired at the lowest price.
The resolution, introduced by the Minister of El Salvador, Dr. María Isabel Rodríguez, recognizes the central role the Revolving Fund has played in the success of immunization efforts in the Region of the Americas, urges countries to participate in the Fund by acquiring vaccines through it, and calls for the strict adherence to the Fund's established principles, terms and conditions, and procedures.
Established in 1979, the PAHO Revolving Fund consolidates the vaccine requirements of Member States to achieve economies of scale and obtain the lowest prices from producers. Currently 35 countries and 6 territories participate in the Fund, which purchased 180 million vaccine doses worth some US$512 million during 2012. Member States contribute 3.5% of the value of their purchases to maintain the working capital and to support operating costs.
To promote equitable access, the Revolving Fund guarantees all member countries access to vaccines at a single price per vaccine. In addition, the Revolving Fund's contractual terms and conditions ensure that the vaccines it procures are the lowest price globally. In the past, a few exceptions to the Fund's principles had been granted. PAHO Member States voted in the Directing Council session to ensure that the Fund no longer makes such exceptions.
A majority of Directing Council delegates argued that the achievements of national immunization programs in Latin America and the Caribbean would not have been possible without the Revolving Fund and its policies, objectives, terms and conditions. Both the high levels of vaccine coverage and the adoption of new, more expensive vaccines would not have been possible, they said, without the low prices countries have obtained through the Fund.
"Over 95% of vaccines in our Region are covered by national funds, and any change would have a major impact on the financial sustainability of immunization programs," said Gina Tambini, director of PAHO's Family, Gender and Life Course Department.
Delegates noted for many countries, maintaining immunization programs at current levels would be difficult if the prices they pay through the Fund were to increase.
Delegates recognized the global initiatives that promote vaccination in development countries, and requested PAHO to continue supporting these efforts without jeopardizing the advances made in this Region. Delegates also encouraged PAHO to continue working with the GAVI Alliance to achieve "synergies" that would benefit countries served by both Organizations.