What are the key features of good vaccine procurement?
Reliable forecast of demand
We make the distinction here between strategic demand forecasting and operational forecasting. Strategic demand forecasting is for medium to long term planning, and is based on best available information and estimates of potential demand. Operational demand forecasting for the short-term is based on actual demand and current stocks and is the basis for contracting with a supplier. Accurate demand forecasting and subsequently good delivery schedules that meet the needs of the programme at a central and peripheral level are essential to good vaccine procurement.
Both WHO and UNICEF have developed reliable tools for short, medium and long term forecasting which can be used at a central and peripheral level. Training is available on the use of these tools and it is important that new staff are trained in order to minimize potential out of stocks and/or over supply of vaccines.
Demand forecasting for vaccines is accurate only if measurements of birth cohort, available stocks, wastage rates and buffer stock levels are taken into account. Demand forecasting based on past use is not always accurate enough for vaccines, budget driven forecasting may also lead to significant under or overstocking. Accurate forecasting should be done in the advance of annual budget requests.
Flexibility in demand specified in the competitive process and subsequent contract with suppliers maybe acceptable to a level of +/- 20% in a year. However the more accurate the forecast and therefore the more reliable the perceived demand from a country can result in increased security of supply.
The WHO and UNICEF Forecasting Tools are available in the following websites: