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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Frequently Asked Questions

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is an organization within the United Nations (UN) system, in charge of public procurement, infrastructure, and project management. It has operations in more than 80 countries and in Latin America we are in 23 countries, including Guatemala.

UNOPS began its collaboration in Guatemala since 1997 to support efforts prior to the peace accords. From there, it has provided support through the implementation of projects in the areas of public procurement, infrastructure, and project management. Also, through counselling services, implementation, and transactional services. Over the past 24 years, it has contributed to the following areas: culture, sports, justice, governance, health, education, decentralization of services, environment, water and sanitation, institutional strengthening, and public infrastructure.

Relations between UNOPS and the Guatemalan Social Security Institute (IGSS) have been strengthened since 2007, initially supporting the actions of the First phase of the IGSS Infrastructure Plan through the construction, equipment, and design of 16 hospitals nationwide.

This first phase was completed in 2018. In 2020, the second phase of the Plan for the Modernization of Hospital Infrastructure through the INFRAIGSS Program, which will be implemented in 2025 was signed. At the same time, in June 2016, the IGSS Board of Directors signed an agreement with UNOPS for the acquisition of medicines and medical supplies, as well as strengthening the Institute's capacities, through the AMEDIGSS Project. The main objective of AMEDIGSS is to introduce the necessary modifications within the entity to guarantee greater efficiency, transparency, and effectiveness in spending, with the ultimate objective of assuring the quality of the services to IGSS affiliates. AMEDIGSS has planned operations up to 2023.

The AMEDIGSS project has contributed to improving efficiency and transparency in the management of the supply chain of medicines and medical supplies of the Social Security (IGSS), developing new centralized mechanisms for its logistics, contractual, and financial management and strengthening its quality assurance systems, safety, and efficiency. The quality of the medicines UNOPS acquires on behalf of IGSS is supported by

a) quality evaluation and verification in the Acquisition of Medicines, it has two stages, ranging from the technical evaluation process up to the quality verification carried out during the delivery process. During the bid evaluation of the pre-contract stage, UNOPS manages the quality of medicines through a technical evaluation that includes the review of the following documents:

  1. Qualitative - Quantitative formula.
  2. Current certificate of compliance with the Good Manufacturing Practices or current WHO-type certificate.
  3. End Product Quality Control Analysis Certificate with recent completion date (12 months).
  4. The methods of analysis or pharmacopoeia used by the manufacturer to perform the analyses that are listed on the related certificate.

But, specially, the validation of the health registration issued by the highest regulatory authority in the country, the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare (MSPAS).

b) Purchase and delivery of medicines: in support of the quality monitoring and pharmacovigilance system established by the Guatemalan regulatory entity, UNOPS implements additional complementary measures during the management of delivery of medicines, to verify the compliance with the specifications required in the bidding process and the contract signed with the suppliers. Such measures relate to sampling medicines and analyzing the samples.

The participation of companies and suppliers of the pharmaceutical and hospital equipment sectors in the bidding processes for the purchases of medicines, surgical medical equipment and the delivery of equipment, and other services has been very positive. So much so that the interest of the market in participating has increased, from 11 participating bidders, in the first event to the participation of 62 suppliers in the fourth event. This growth shows greater confidence in the processes and in transparency, which allow plurality and competition, as well as an improvement in the cost-quality ratio of the acquisition of medicines for the benefit of the IGSS rights-holders.

All processes led by UNOPS are posted on the organization's institutional platforms, as well as the UN platform and through the web portals of the participating public institutions of the States, in this case, Guatecompras to get information. These are also widely disseminated, by various mechanisms, at the national and international levels. All the documentation of tenders, technical files, and contracts (bases, clarifications, evaluation reports, proposals, etc.) is shared with national counterparts and is publicly available.

UNOPS has sound procedures to ensure the proper management of public funds, additionally it has an audit process of more than eight Internal and External Supervision and Audit entities of the United Nations system that ensure transparency and accountability. As an agency of the United Nations system, it collaborates and coordinates with the control entities of the State.

All the information of projects and interventions is posted on the UNOPS website and in State information systems. In addition, UNOPS has been the first to post all the geolocation data for its projects under the International Aid for Transparency Initiative (IATI).

The governing body of the organization is the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS, established in 1993 and its members are elected on an annual basis by the United Nations Economic and Social Council from the 36 member countries. The Board is responsible for supervising the activities of such bodies in accordance with the general regulatory guidance provided by the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council in according to the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations. In 2015, Guatemala chaired the Executive Board of the three UN agencies.

Both AMEDIGSS project and INFRAIGSS program can be audited by the Comptrollership Office and the control bodies of the State through the Guatemalan Social Security Institute (IGSS), as the owner of the programs.

For its part, UNOPS, as a United Nations agency, is subject to more than nine control and audit mechanisms. The reports issued by the bodies responsible for these controls are reviewed regularly by the Executive Board. All the reports and documents are public and available on the Internet and comply with international transparency policies and commitments.

UNOPS has established clear rules in the processes for the acquisition of medicines, hospital equipment, infrastructure, and other services in support of IGSS to ensure transparency, accountability, and savings. To this end, it has defined five strategic areas of technical assistance for the institute: (i) Competitive, transparent, and open tenders; (ii) Strengthening the management of the organization; (iii) Improving logistics; (iv) Monitoring and evaluation; and (v) Improving health services.

Likewise, innovations have been incorporated into the tendering processes. For example, changing the type of contracts to be established with the suppliers through the application of Long-Term Agreements (LTA).

And another example, is the application of the Electronic Reverse Auction (ERA), which is an online, real-time, dynamic auction that is held between a purchasing organization, in this case UNOPS, and a number of bidders that compete with each other in order for a contract to be awarded to them, by progressively submitting lower bids over a given period of time.

This has always been of interest to UNOPS and it is intended to be parallel to the ongoing improvement process that IGSS has started in order to strengthen capacities, professionalize the public sector, and contribute to fight corruption and reduce the gaps within the public sector, to benefit the quality of life of citizens, adding value to public management.

Linked to the above, and in order to incorporate innovations in the management of institutional change within IGSS, we have been working together to implement Excellence-Based Management Models (EFQM) and strategies such as the accompaniment of executive peers, training courses, and institutional strengthening components.

UNOPS leads the initiative to promote an Equitable and Fair Public Management initiative - Fair Public Management. This proposal shows the commitment to strengthen Public Management in Latin America and the Caribbean through joint actions to build better public services that maximize transparency, efficiency, and effectiveness of government spending.

A good public administration creates impacts on the structural causes of exclusion, inequalities, and poverty, as it generates improvements in the quality of goods and services; produces significant savings in public funds that can be reinvested to increase the coverage of services, spaces, and goods; and reduces poor practices and corruption.

Frequently Asked Questions

In an effort to improve social security in Guatemala, UNOPS has been working with IGSS to support improved transparency in the acquisition of medicines and medical supplies. The Acquisition of Medicines and Strengthening of the Guatemalan Social Security Institute Project- AMEDIGSS, to be implemented from 2016 up to 2023, is based on three strategies: (i) The acquisition of medicines and medical supplies; (ii) Hiring services for the renal replacement treatment ; and (iii) Strengthening and modernizing the institutional management of IGSS.

Since 2016, the AMEDIGSS project has carried out 25 tenders. UNOPS has purchased more than 900 million medicines, on behalf of IGSS, contributing to the supply of IGSS medical units at the national level.

In addition, in 2018, the AMEDIGSS project incorporated an initiative for hiring services for the renal replacement treatment , focusing on hemodialysis, dialysis, and technical assistance associated to these services. These actions have allowed the expansion and improvement of the supply in renal disease care for the Social Security patients; decentralizing services through 29 National Care Centers, and incorporating innovative modalities such as Automated Peritoneal Dialysis for

Adults and Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT) procedures for critically ill patients.

There are several benefits. At the administrative level, to improve its procurement processes, consolidating and better understanding the needs of the requirements they have. Leave the processes in the hands of UNOPS, thus ensuring transparency and accountability, as well as achieving significant savings. In pharmacovigilance, the evaluation and verification of the quality and safety of medicines and clinical supplies acquired by IGSS under UNOPS processes, includes carrying out controls, sampling, methods of analysis and rigorous compliance with the protocols and requirements established by the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare (MSPAS), as well as international certifications.

The participation of companies, suppliers, and the pharmaceutical sector in the procurement tender processes for medicines and surgical medical equipment, led by IGSS with the support of UNOPS has been positive. So much so that the interest of the market in participating has increased, from 11 participating bidders, before the first event, to the participation of more than 100 suppliers.

This growth shows a greater confidence in the processes and transparency of the Institute. Consolidating IGSS into the position of an influential buyer in the domestic and international market.

The savings achieved by the AMEDIGSS project are due to: i) Consolidating the demand of the medical units generating volumes of purchase of medicines. This also evolved toward an IGSS Annual Procurement Plan more adapted to the Institute's real needs; (ii) Conducting price analyzes to award medicines at reasonable and fair prices with reference to the national, regional, and international market. and iii) Transparency of the bidding process and clear rules of AMEDIGSS created confidence in the market, increasing the participation of suppliers in the processes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Guatemala's Social Security has a historical gap on hospital infrastructure. Faced with this, the IGSS Board of Directors has prioritized an Infrastructure Modernization Plan building hospitals, medical clinics, and health units, in two phases.

The first phase of the Plan was developed during the 2007-2014 and received technical assistance from UNOPS for the construction, equipment, and supervision of 17 works, among which are the Hospital Regional de Occidente in Quetzaltenango and the IGSS Puerto Barrios Hospital. In this context, the second phase to modernization to be developed between 2020 and 2025 involves the building of two (2) hospitals and their related equipment; as well as the design of four (4) more hospitals, through UNOPS, the design and procurement of equipment for IT upgrading, and the purchase of ambulances, through the INFRAIGSS Program, to increase healthcare coverage through infrastructure that improves and brings health services closer to the rights-holders.

INFRAIGSS comes from a comprehensive view of the needs of the right-holders and takes them into account by providing support to IGSS so that it has optimal and well-equipped healthcare infrastructures, with the most current standards of the health sector, to improve its capacity to respond.

The INFRAIGSS Program, throughout its first year, was forced to immediately support the IGSS response to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. In this context, the acquisition and delivery of more than 3,000 state-of-the-art medical equipment was achieved, distributed in 18 IGSS medical units and hospitals, which allowed better care and coverage to the right-holders affected by COVID.

Likewise, two modular emergency units were acquired and implemented, one located in zone 11 of the capital and the second in the department of Escuintla. Both have 384 new hospital beds for the IGSS and more than 5,000 totally new and state-of-the-art equipment for its operation.

Due to this immediate support, during the first months, different amendments to the agreement had to be worked on, jointly with IGSS, prioritizing areas of greatest need and interest, readjusting the budget for its best use.

Regarding what was included in the original agreement, 95% progress has been made in the design of the Hospital Regional de Oriente in Zacapa, 46 new ambulances have been delivered and the staff has been trained on their use, as well as the delivery of 107 of the 188 lines of equipment that must be replaced.

In the area of IT modernization, more than 3,000 PCs have been purchased and installed nationwide, and 100% of the projects for the installation of the SAN storage unit and rack servers have been completed.

Progress is also being made in the implementation of the Telemedicine Project that will cover 7 departments in the country.