WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) — The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says it has leveraged its Strategic Fund for Public Health Supplies to procure and distribute millions of COVID-19 diagnostic kits, personal protective equipment (PPEs) and other essential health supplies to countries throughout the Americas, including the Caribbean.
PAHO said the fund procured an estimated US$75 million worth of COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests for six countries, working with suppliers to purchase, deliver and distribute the supplies.
So far, over 10 million PCR tests have been sent to six countries and PAHO said the fund also obtained PPEs, including face shields, gloves, goggles, gowns, masks and respirators for 26 countries, valued at US$14.6 million.
“Technical cooperation and pooled procurement form an important part of the organisation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has spread to all 54 countries and territories in the Americas and has resulted in more than 9.9 million confirmed cases and over 372,000 deaths to date,” said PAHO in a statement.
It said the Strategic Fund was established in 2000 to improve access to essential medicines and strategic public health supplies, and has facilitated the procurement of millions of lifesaving treatments for a variety of diseases – including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, diabetes and hepatitis C.
PAHO said that, currently, 34 countries and territories in the Americas participate in the Strategic Fund, “which is helping countries acquire quality-assured, essential medicines and public health supplies at competitive prices through transparent international bidding processes so as to increase access to quality health products for member states”.
“Health emergencies are on the rise and programmes like the PAHO Strategic Fund are critical for ensuring health systems that are resilient to outbreaks and other public health threats,” said PAHO Director Dr Carissa Etienne.
She said the fund helps countries in the Americas “address new challenges by guaranteeing the continuous and efficient supply of essential medicines and health technologies in priority areas of both communicable and non-communicable diseases”.
“Because of the fund’s effectiveness in facilitating enhanced supply chain management of critical public health supplies, we have signed participating agreements with 34 countries and territories, and developed new partnerships with pivotal health agencies,” the Dominican-born PAHO director said.
PAHO said the Strategic Fund provides medicines and supplies included in the World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines to strengthen priority public health programs for communicable and non-communicable diseases and neglected tropical diseases.