Volume 31, Issue 37, Pages 3763-4054 (20 August 2013)
Strengthening vaccination policies in Latin America: An evidence-based approach
Roberto Tapia-Conyer, Miguel Betancourt-Cravioto, Rodrigo Saucedo-Martínez, Lourdes Motta-Murguía, Héctor Gallardo-Rincón
Despite many successes in the region, Latin American vaccination policies have significant shortcomings, and further work is needed to maintain progress and prepare for the introduction of newly available vaccines. In order to address the challenges facing Latin America, the Commission for the Future of Vaccines in Latin America (COFVAL) has made recommendations for strengthening evidence-based policy-making and reducing regional inequalities in immunisation. We have conducted a comprehensive literature review to assess the feasibility of these recommendations. Standardisation of performance indicators for disease burden, vaccine coverage, epidemiological surveillance and national health resourcing can ensure comparability of the data used to assess vaccination programmes, allowing deeper analysis of how best to provide services. Regional vaccination reference schemes, as used in Europe, can be used to develop best practice models for vaccine introduction and scheduling. Successful models exist for the continuous training of vaccination providers and decision-makers, with a new Latin American diploma aiming to contribute to the successful implementation of vaccination programmes. Permanent, independent vaccine advisory committees, based on the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), could facilitate the uptake of new vaccines and support evidence-based decision-making in the administration of national immunisation programmes. Innovative financing mechanisms for the purchase of new vaccines, such as advance market commitments and cost front-loading, have shown potential for improving vaccine coverage. A common regulatory framework for vaccine approval is needed to accelerate delivery and pool human, technological and scientific resources in the region. Finally, public–private partnerships between industry, government, academia and non-profit sectors could provide new investment to stimulate vaccine development in the region, reducing prices in the long term. These reforms are now crucial, particularly as vaccines for previously neglected, developing-world diseases become available. In summary, a regionally-coordinated health policy will reduce vaccination inequality in Latin America.