Objectives: The aim of this study was to briefly describe the current state of early awareness and alert (EAA) activities and systems in four Latin-American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico).
Methods: Key informants were selected and completed an open questionnaire that included the following domains: current state of EAA activities and systems in each country, potential role for EAA systems in the health system, and future EAA projects that are currently being considered.
Results: In all four countries, health technology assessment (HTA) processes are used to prioritize the use of health resources, albeit at varying degrees and with different mechanisms and methodologies. EAA activities are still limited and there are virtually no institutions or units with specific functions explicitly devoted to EAA activity. However, most countries have developed some initial forms of EAA systems. Being in its initial stages there is no clear differentiation between these early awareness activities and other HTA functions, and no specific methodologies or processes are used to anticipate the emergence of new technologies. Consequently, early evaluation of technologies generally occurs in a reactive manner, after they have been introduced in the market and under the pressure of different stakeholders.
Conclusions: There is growing awareness that the early identification and assessment of emerging technologies should be an integral part of HTA and the decision-making process. Many initiatives are currently focusing on building partnerships between the various regulatory bodies involved in the incorporation of technologies at national levels. It is reasonable to foresee that EAA activities will continue to develop and expand in the region.
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