Twenty-five years of the WHO vaccines prequalification programme (1987–2012): Lessons learned and future perspectives
The World Health Organization (WHO) vaccines prequalification programme was established in 1987. It is a service provided to United Nations procurement agencies to ensure that the vaccines supplied through these agencies are consistently safe and effective under conditions of use in national immunization programmes. This review describes the purpose and aims of the programme, its evolution during 25 years of existence, its added value, and its role in the context of the WHO strategy to ensure the global availability of vaccines of assured quality. The rationale for changes introduced during the implementation of the programme is provided. The paper also discusses the resources involved, both human and financial, its performance, strengths and weaknesses and steps taken to maximize its efficiency. This historical perspective is used to inform proposed future changes to the service.