Vaccine Independence Initiative (VII)
© UNICEF Pacific/ 2005
Vaccine security is ensured in the Pacific through the Vaccine Independence Initiative (VII). The VII provides a mechanism to maintain an annual group procurement of vaccines while encouraging governments to finance and assume increasing responsibility for procurement of vaccines on the international market. Prior to the implementation of this mechanism in 1997, small quantities of vaccine were procured by each country separately. This haphazard procurement resulted in very high costs partly due to the large shipping distances involved, to lost consignments, vaccine shortages and the use of impotent vaccines.
Beginning in 1995, the twelve Pacific island countries proposed to gradually finance the cost of vaccines required and by 1997, they were able to fully finance this expense. By taking increasing financial responsibility for the purchase of vaccines, governments increase the long-term sustainability of their immunization programmes. The Initiative also provides a financially feasible and efficient means for introducing new vaccines such as DPT-Hib to the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI).
The Initiative is structured around a revolving fund. The revolving fund acts as a line of credit for the government, allowing the government to pay for vaccines at a later time, after receipt of the order. Funds from the revolving fund are used by UNICEF to purchase vaccines directly from the manufacturers. The revolving fund is then reimbursed when the government pays UNICEF for the vaccine order.
An agreement has been developed between the government (Ministry of Health) of each Pacific island country and UNICEF for the systematic procurement, delivery and payment of vaccines. The agreement sets out the responsibilities of each Party, the general procedures and outlines the following general commitments:
Each Government will ensure the availability of local or hard currency for vaccine needs forecasted on an annual basis by providing a Letter of Guarantee which guarantees payment for the vaccines to be ordered in a mutually agreed upon convertible currency.
Governments will forecast their yearly vaccine needs and this will be used as a basis for the annual order.
- Upon UNICEF’s acceptance of each request, the vaccines are procured by UNICEF on behalf of the Governments and each supplier ships to a Regional Vaccine Cold Store facility in Fiji. Vaccines will then be repackaged and distributed to the Pacific island countries.
- A revolving fund has been established with donor contributions and is operated by UNICEF. UNICEF advances funds from the revolving fund for the procurement of vaccines based on requests submitted by each government. Governments agree to reimburse UNICEF for vaccine associated costs.
- Each country receives an invoice reflecting the cost of vaccines procured on their behalf, the transport costs, and a portion of the operating and administrative costs of the Regional cold Store, which is shared between the twelve countries.
- The Governments will reimburse the fund in US Dollars, upon presentation of UNICEF’s invoice. Under the VII, payment must be made within 60 days after receipt of the invoice in order to ensure continued reimbursement of the revolving fund for future vaccine procurement.
An un-interrupted supply of low cost, high quality WHO standard EPI vaccines are ensured to 13 Pacific Island Countries through this Vaccine Independence Initiative. This has allowed countries to become self reliant in vaccine procurement, the most critical element in the immunization programme.