April 5, 2013
Three Latin American countries -- Guatemala, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic -- are working to strengthen their ability to manage drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS as part of a pilot project supported by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. The goal is to prevent shortages of antiretroviral drugs, a problem that countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have experienced. To avoid such shortages, the countries are working to improve supply systems for HIV/AIDS medications and transparency in drug management information.
Antiretroviral drug shortages, called "stock-outs," can result in dangerous treatment interruptions for persons with HIV/AIDS, and can lead to drug resistance requiring review and treatment changes. Latin America and the Caribbean have higher levels of antiretroviral drug coverage than any other developing region, but they also experience challenges in maintaining and increasing coverage. Approximately 68 percent of people in Latin America and 67 percent in the Caribbean who need antiretroviral drug treatment are receiving it. In 2011, more than half of Latin American and Caribbean countries (14 of 26; 54 percent) had at least one antiretroviral stock-out. These were mainly due to problems with bidding, purchasing, and distribution processes or complications with drug production.
At the beginning of the pilot project, PAHO/WHO, in cooperation with the Global Fund, sponsored an information exchange among the national health authorities, strategic partners, and civil society representatives of each country, to analyze problems that could affect the drug supply. The three countries are using the PAHO/WHO Regional Platform on Access and Innovation for Health Technologies, which provides online tools to systematize and share information.