On April 9, Mexico joined the Vaccine Revolving Fund and the Medicines Fund of the World Health Organization (WHO). The move was announced in a ceremony at the National Palace attended by Mexican President Andrés López Obrador (AMLO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (Michelle Bachelet) and representatives from 22 countries. According to WHO representative Cristián Morales, Mexico’s joining of the Fund will allow it to partake in consolidated purchasing of drugs and vaccines at low prices.
The agreement signed between Secretary of Health Jorge Alcocer and Director General of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Carissa F. Etienne endorses the purchase of medicines and supplies from countries outside Latin America. Among other things, PAHO acts to facilitate the supply of drugs manufactured at low cost in countries such as China, India, Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Turkey. The agreement contains 15 clauses that outline the rules and objectives to which Mexico must adhere for the purchase of these health products.
Conditions include the following: AMLO’s administration must pay the WHO in US dollars (only exceptionally can it do so in national currency); the delivery of drug supplies will be quarterly; goods will display a label different to that required under Mexican laws; and payment and delivery commitments must be well coordinated. The agreement also introduces restrictions on the marketing of drugs and vaccines, rules to respect patents, and periodic audits, and it opens the door to the involvement of other public institutions of the National Health System.
On a separate note, adherence to this system could potentially pose a barrier to the ratification of the Mexico-United States-Canada Treaty (T-MEC). It will also oblige Mexico to modify its Procurement Law, which regulates purchases made by the public sector.