THE FIRST countries to receive approval for support from the
Vaccine Fund have received the good news. Letters from GAVI were
sent to the countries just before Immunization Focus went
to press. The first payments and supplies of vaccine are on track
to be released by November.
An independent review committee met to assess the proposals in
mid-July. Its six members, from Ghana, Tanzania, the Philippines,
Mali, the US and Thailand, included immunization programme
managers and a health minister ( 1 ). The
committees recommendations were endorsed by the GAVI Board. In
total, 17 countries submitted proposals that contained enough
information for review. Of these, 15 received approval,
conditional in some cases on the countries ability to demonstrate
that they could meet specific requirements. Remaining countries
have been requested to re-submit their proposals.
Some clear lessons emerged from this brand-new process, however.
One is that the guidelines and proposal application form need to
be improved. Some governments appeared not to have understood
fully the need for detailed quantitative information about their
immunization programmes. In fact, the review committee decided
that all the approved countries need to provide further
information before funds can be released for example, in
spelling out how they plan to mobilize the resources to pay for
newly introduced vaccines in the medium to long term. "In GAVI we
should foster quality," says Maritel Costales, a member of the
committee, and previously the immunization programme manager for
the Philippines. The countries have been asked to produce the
information by 1 September.
"This was our first time; it was difficult," said Costales. "We
have learnt from our experience, but I am confident that the
process is a good one."
The countries that received approval for one or both forms of Fund
support, subject to providing additional information, are: Bhutan,
Cambodia, Côte dIvoire, Ghana, Guyana, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic,
the Laos Peoples Democratic Republic, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali,
Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda (for immunization services); and