Improving Vaccine Access in Asia Pacific: A Call to Action


As the COVID-19 pandemic showed, vaccination is perhaps the most important tool a country has in maintaining the health of its population. Writing in the May 2023 edition of DIA’s Global Forum magazine, Jun Feng and Alex Best of Janssen Singapore and Kristy Lim of Janssen South Korea highlight how countries in the Asia-Pacific region can improve access to both the vaccines of today and lay the ground for those of the future.


Vaccination is one of the most efficient public health interventions available and the main tool for primary prevention of communicable diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the health, social, and economic benefits from timely access to vaccines and other essential treatments. The pandemic has also highlighted two critical preconditions to delivering timely access: First, countries must have a responsive and transparent national immunization program; second, countries must establish procurement and financing arrangements that can rapidly execute commercial arrangements to secure supply.

Embedding these two conditions in countries across Asia Pacific is therefore the best way to ensure comprehensive access to the essential vaccines of today and prepare health systems to rapidly adopt the vaccines of the future. As we have witnessed over the last three years, this access is critical to the region’s economic growth and prosperity.

Analysis of this situation for this article reveals that pathways to inclusion in National Immunization Programs (NIPs) vary within and between markets in Asia Pacific. Japan, Korea, and Australia provide relatively consistent coverage via national programs, despite their different processes for reviewing, recommending, and reimbursing vaccines. In other cases, the reimbursement timeframe varies significantly for different vaccines within the same market. For example, China and Taiwan provide coverage at the regional level, which required engagement with multiple local authorities to enable access.

Healthcare is a priority across Asia Pacific, but prevention has received a relatively low level of investment. For example, the Australian government spends around 10% of GDP on healthcare but spends less than 2% of the healthcare budget on prevention. Across Europe, governments spend around 7% of GDP on healthcare; however, less than 3% of this is spent on prevention and only about 9% of the prevention budget (less than 0.5% of the total health budget) is spent on immunization.


Read the full article on the DIA Global Forum website here


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