Important principles of vaccine procurement
Who should be involved?
An appropriate vaccine procurement system requires collaboration across several parties to ensure that programmatic, financing, and quality control issues are adequately addressed.
It is critical that any government wishing to undertake vaccine procurement, legally establish (through government legislation), an independent National Regulatory Authority (NRA), which holds competency for vaccine regulation. The NRA is authorized to license vaccines for use in-country, establish procedures for vaccine lot release and institute a post-marketing surveillance system of vaccine performance in the field. The vaccine procurement entity, whether it is the government or a procurement agent, must work closely with the NRA, which is the body principally responsible for the development of technical specifications for vaccines for procurement and the quality assurance of vaccine products licensed for use.
The vaccine procurement entity also need to work closely with the manager of the national immunization program (NIP manager/EPI manager), who is principally responsible for defining the programmatic specifications of vaccine products needed and calculating the multi-year vaccine demand forecasts. These requirements may vary from year to year, depending on national immunization strategies. The NIP manager/EPI Manager should be involved in recommendations or decisions regarding the type of vaccine products to be used, characteristics or presentation of products chosen, the quantities and deliveries of vaccines forecasted. It is also the responsibility of NIP/EPI to ensure all vaccines are properly transported from the port of entry to the national cold store. Therefore, it is essential that the procurement entity fully consults with the NIP/EPI before and during the process of vaccine procurement.
The vaccine procurement entity must also engage with the appropriate representatives in the Ministry of Finance and finance departments within the Ministry of Health to secure necessary letters of credit and authorization of release of funds to honor procurement contracts.