Does structural form matter? A comparative analysis of pooled procurement mechanisms for health commodities

Koray Parmaksiz*, Hester van de Bovenkamp, Roland Bal

*Corresponding author for this work

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Pooled procurement can be seen as a collaboration initiative of buyers. Such mechanisms have received increased attention during the Covid-19 pandemic to improve access to affordable and quality-assured health commodities. The structural form of pooled procurement mechanisms ranges from a third-party organization that procures on behalf of its buyers to a buyer’s owned mechanism in which buyers operate more collaboratively. However, little is known about how these types of pooled procurement mechanisms differ in terms of characteristics, implementation and developmental process. To fill this gap, we compared four pooled procurement mechanisms. Two buyer’s owned mechanisms: the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Pacific Island Countries (PIC). And two third-party mechanisms: the Global Drug Facility (GDF) and the Asthma Drug Facility (ADF).

For this qualitative study, we used a multiple case-study design. The cases were purposefully selected, based on a most-similar case study design. We used the Pooled Procurement Guidance to collect data on individual cases and compared our findings between the case studies. For our analysis, we drew upon peer-reviewed academic articles, grey literature documents and 9 semi-structured interviews with procurement experts.

Buyers within a buyer’s owned mechanisms differ in procurement systems, financing structures, product needs and regulatory and legal frameworks. Therefore, buyers within such mechanisms require relative alignment on motivations, goals and operations of the mechanism. Our study showed that buyers’ relative homogeneity of characteristics and their perceived urgency of the problems was particularly relevant for achieving that alignment.

Third-party organization mechanisms require less alignment and consensus-building between buyers. To participate, buyers need to align with the operations of the third-party organization, instead of other buyers. Elements that were essential for the successful implementation and operation of such mechanisms included the procurement secretariat’s ability to create local and global awareness around the problem, to induce political will to act upon the problem, to mobilize sufficient funding and to attract qualified staff.

To successfully sustain pooled procurement mechanisms over time, key actors should drive the mechanism through continuous and reflexive work on stakeholder engagement, mobilization of funding and alignment of interests and needs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number90
JournalGlobalization and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2023.


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