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 Tanzania.