AffiliationMSF Access Campaign / MSF USA
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AbstractVaccination is an effective intervention to reduce disease, disability, death and health inequities worldwide. Over the last two decades, vaccines have become more accessible in low-income countries; however, significant gaps remain, particularly in humanitarian emergencies, where populations face increased risks of many diseases. In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) published Vaccination in acute humanitarian emergencies: a framework for decision-making, to provide guidance on which vaccines to prioritize during emergencies.1 However, substantial obstacles, especially high prices for new vaccines, hinder implementation of this framework and of critical vaccination activities in emergency settings. In response to these challenges, global health stakeholders held a series of consultations in 2016 and proposed a WHO-based mechanism, the Humanitarian Mechanism, for the rapid procurement of affordable vaccines during emergencies, to be used by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations, United Nations (UN) agencies and governments. Here we present the background of the creation of the mechanism from the perspective of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), including a description of our past challenges in accessing affordable pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV; Box 1), a critical vaccine during many emergencies. We then describe how the mechanism has so far facilitated access to more affordable PCV and outline steps that could increase its potential for saving lives.