LNCT Member Newsletter May 2020

LNCT Updates

Materials from Special Peer Learning Discussion Group on COVID-19 Impact on Immunization Programs Available Online
On April 30, LNCT organized a special peer learning discussion group for countries to discuss the pandemic’s impact on immunization programs and responses across countries. Several LNCT countries – Georgia, India, and Indonesia – shared their current experiences and concerns for the immunization program, changes that have been made to immunization activities, how services are being delivered as a result of the pandemic, and impact already seen on the use of immunization services. Materials from the discussion, including a recording and a summary can be found on the LNCT website. Based on participant feedback, LNCT plans to organize a follow-up discussion in the coming months – please keep an eye out for details!

LNCT’s New Resource Page Features Guidance on Immunization Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic 
LNCT published a new resource page with documents that provide guiding principles and considerations to support countries in their decision-making regarding provision of immunization and other essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This resource page will be updated as new resources and tools become available from our partners. If your country has developed a new policy or strategy for immunization programming or service provision during COVID-19, please share your experience in our discussion forum* or by emailing LNCT Network Coordinators at info@lnct.global

Designing Behavioral Strategies for Immunization in a Covid-19 Context Webinar Materials Now Available
This webinar reviewed the Covid-19 context that many GAVI countries now find themselves in with regard to immunization-related  behavior.  Looking at a few behavioral levers that can increase demand for immunization and learning from countries who have begun to reintroduce immunization services, the webinar explored how countries can increase public trust and demand for immunization to ensure global gains in immunization do not unravel. Participants also heard from four countries – Cote D’Ivoire, India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam – on key challenges and lessons learned from their experiences.  The materials from the webinar, including the slides and recording, are available on the LNCT website.

Introducing New Network Coordinator Partnership with the Institute for Health Policy (IHP)
The Institute for Health Policy (IHP) is an independent, non-profit Sri Lankan health think tank based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. IHP brings extensive experience working in or with most of the LNCT countries in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as collaboration with international agencies such as WHO, GFATM, UNICEF, World Bank and ADB. IHP hopes to bring its experience of regional collaborations to its partnership with R4D as a Network Coordinator for LNCT in the Asia Pacific Region. As R4D’s regional partner, will support network members and R4D in network coordination and technical facilitation, primarily in the Asia Pacific Region as well as potentially provide technical support beyond the region. Find out more about this new partnership here.

NEW BLOG – When Old Diseases Crash Upon New: Crisis and Opportunity
COVID-19 is consuming the attention of health ministries all over the world, but deaths due to resurgence of old diseases, like measles, are likely to exceed deaths due COVID-19. As a key part of overall COVID-19 response, we must find ways to continue ongoing immunizations efforts while also protecting health workers and assuring caregivers that immunization can be conducted safely– failure to do this will have a devastating effect on people’s health. This new blog prioritizes three actions that are critical for safeguarding health during this global crisis — and beyond.

Highlights from our Partners

Overview of the COVID-19 Situation in Gavi-supported Countries and Gavi’s Response
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a heavy burden on global economies, health care systems and other core sectors. Gavi is helping countries reallocate their health system strengthening grants to provide fast and flexible funding for vital resources, personal protective equipment and disease surveillance. Read more about their response on the Gavi website.

Gavi has also created a COVID-19 dashboard to track how the pandemic is impacting Gavi countries.

Using Digital Tools to Accelerate Progress in the Face of a Global Pandemic
As a pandemic rages across the globe, the critical role of immunization services has become clearer than ever. Digital and data tools and approaches first introduced to strengthen immunization services can be used to understand and curb the devastating impacts of COVID-19. The BID Initiative, a PATH project working with the governments of Tanzania and Zambia to introduce electronic immunization registries (EIRs), is adapting its systems to help both countries respond to COVID-19. Using the individual-level data made available by their EIRs, BID is working to slow the spread of the epidemic, socialize preventative measures, and spread messages of health promotion among the health workforce and general public. Learn more on the BID website.

Webinar Recordings from International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) World Immunization Week Series Now Available 
The International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC) hosted a series of webinars to celebrate World Immunization Week, April 24-30, 2020. The recordings and slides from the webinars can be viewed below:

  • Measuring the Economic Impact of Vaccines
    • Recording: WATCH HERE
    • Slides: DOWNLOAD HERE
    • Description: The webinar presented the estimates from the Decade of Vaccine Economics (DoVE) study of the economic benefits and return-on-investment of vaccines against 10 antigens in 73 low-income countries.  The study finds that for every $1 spent on immunization, $21 are saved on health care costs, lost wages, and lost productivity.
  • VoICE: Using High-impact Evidence for Immunization Advocacy
    • Recording: WATCH HERE
    • Slides: DOWNLOAD HERE
    • Description: This webinar illustrated how the VoICE tool can be used to synthesize high-quality evidence from across disciplines to support high-impact advocacy messaging that demonstrates the value of vaccines for all people.
  • Protecting Vaccine Programs in the Era of COVID-19
    • Recording: WATCH HERE
    • Slides: DOWNLOAD HERE
    • Description: The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to have significant effects on routine immunization programs due to the burden on the health system, physical distancing requirements and reluctance by people to seek vaccination.

Featured Resources

WHO Guiding Principles for Immunization Activities During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This document provides guiding principles and considerations to support countries in their decision-making regarding provision of immunization services during the COVID-19 pandemic and is endorsed by the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization.  These FAQs accompany WHO’s guiding principles for immunization activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maintaining Essential Services in the Time of COVID-19: Vaccination Delivery in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, reports that 14 national campaigns against vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, measles, and cholera have already been postponed. As a result of this, 13.5 million people in some of the most challenging settings worldwide will miss out on vaccination. Yet, as recent modelling work using data from Africa shows, the health benefits accrued from childhood vaccination vastly outweigh the risk of contracting, and dying from, COVID-19 during immunisation clinic visits. This blog  from the Center for Global Development considers childhood vaccination delivery in the context of COVID-19, and proposes how to sustain, and ideally expand, delivery in the face of tightening resource constraints.

How to budget for COVID-19 response
To inform budgetary response in countries where the pandemic may spread in the near future, WHO has developed a summary of observed budgetary practices in some highly-affected countries, with the aim of informing other countries about responses to three key questions:

  1. What are the immediate spending actions that can be taken with existing budgets?
  2. How to secure budget for COVID-19 response through revisions in finance laws?
  3. What can be done to accelerate budget execution and funds release to the frontlines?

Benefit-risk Analysis of Health Benefits of Routine Childhood Immunisation Against the Excess Risk of SARS-CoV-2 Infections During the Covid-19 Pandemic in Africa
National immunisation programmes globally are at risk of suspension due to the severe health system constraints and physical distancing measures in place to mitigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this analysis was to compare the health benefits of sustaining routine childhood immunisation in Africa against the risk of acquiring SARS-CoV-2 infections through visiting routine vaccination service delivery points. The key findings found that for every one excess Covid-19 death attributable to SARS-CoV-2 infections acquired during routine vaccination clinic visits, there could be 140 (37 – 549) deaths in children prevented by sustaining routine childhood immunisation in Africa. Read the full report here.

PAHO Recommendations for the Immunization Program in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic
PAHO has updated their guidance regarding the operation of immunization programs in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic based on new evidence and publications produced by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Immunization Financing Resource Guide for Advocates, Policymakers, and Program Managers
This resource guide compiles 26 briefs on topics related to the cost and financing of national immunization programs in low- and middle-income countries. The guide provides information and analysis to help advocates, policymakers, and program managers assess different financing options, approaches to strategic purchasing, and strategies for policy change, incorporating recent country experience in these areas. The brief is available in English, French, Spanish, and Russian. An interactive, web-based version of the resource guide is also available here.

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