Linked Community News December 2022

This newsletter is available in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian.

The Linked Immunisation Action Network is invigorated following our workshop in Colombo, Sri Lanka, which brought together stakeholders from Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam to discuss good practices and promising approaches in Clearing Immunisation Backlogs and Building Back Better in the Wake of Covid-19. We encourage you to learn from the experiences of these countries by accessing the workshop presentations and country posters.

We are also pleased to share a package of resources focused on new vaccine introduction. First, we launched two new practitioner perspective interviews with Dilorom Tursunova, Head of the Expanded Immunisation Programme, Uzbekistan, on the country’s successful introduction of the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine first rolled out as part of the national immunisation schedule in 2019. To prevent and mitigate misinformation, the government and its partners undertook a major proactive and multifaceted communication campaign. In this interview, Dilorom explains some of the barriers in the beginning of introduction, as well as strategies and lessons learned. Second, our brief centered around HPV Vaccine Introduction – Communications & Intersectoral Collaboration – Lessons Learned from Georgia and Uzbekistan – is now available in additional languages, including English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian. Finally, Gavi has published a story featuring Uzbekistan’s strong communication campaign that led to an astonishing 94% of Uzbek girls aged 12 to 14 receiving a first dose of the HPV vaccine against the human papillomavirus.

During our workshop in July, seven countries from the Europe-Central Asia region met up in Tbilisi, Georgia to discuss strengthening immunisation service delivery through primary health care platforms. You can now explore highlights of country experiences, mitigating strategies, and good practices discussed during the workshop in our new brief, Key Takeaways from Linked Learning Engagement on Strengthening Immunisation Service Delivery through Primary Health Care (PHC) Platforms.

In the coming year, we are looking forward to launching exciting learning exchanges and new initiatives, and expanding membership in the network to a broader set of middle-income countries to learn from each other on sustainable and equitable introduction of key missing vaccines.

We wish you a happy holiday season and a happy, healthy new year!
Your Linked Network Facilitation Team from Curatio International Foundation (Tbilisi), the Institute for Health Policy (Colombo), and Results for Development (Washington, DC)

NETWORK UPDATES

Clearing Immunisation Backlogs and Building Back Better in the Wake of Covid-19: Workshop Materials Now Available Online
Earlier this month, stakeholders from Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam came together to discuss promising practices to clear the immunisation backlog that has built up over the last two years while continuing to provide routine immunisation. The workshop revealed a wealth of information on the challenges countries have faced due to the pandemic, what they are doing to address the resulting backlog, and the approaches, good practices, and lessons learned that emerged and how to continue them to ensure that children are not missed out. For those stakeholders who did not attend the workshop, don’t miss out on the rich learnings and make sure to check out the materials, including presentations and country posters.

New Practitioner Perspective Video: Lessons from Uzbekistan on their Successful Introduction of the HPV Vaccine
During our workshop with seven countries in the Europe-Central Asia region on Strengthening Immunisation Service Delivery through Primary Health Care Platforms, Linked Network facilitators asked Dilorom Tursunova, Head of the Expanded Immunisation Programme, Uzbekistan, about the country’s successful introduction of the HPV vaccine. To prevent and mitigate misinformation, the government and its partners undertook a major proactive and multifaceted communication campaign. In this interview, Dilorom explains some of the barriers in the beginning of introduction, as well as strategies and lessons learned. The video interview was conducted in Russian and is accompanied by English sub-titles.

New Brief on Key Takeaways from Linked Learning Engagement on Strengthening Immunisation Service Delivery through Primary Health Care (PHC) Platforms
During our workshop in July, seven countries from the Europe-Central Asia region – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Mongolia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan – met up in Tbilisi, Georgia to discuss strengthening immunisation service delivery through primary health care platforms. During the workshop, immunisation practitioners and global and regional experts shared experiences, mitigating strategies, and good practices to address the challenges of integrating immunisation into PHC platforms. Explore workshop highlights and key takeaways in our new brief. Plus, don’t miss out on the rich learnings from these technical expert presentations, including:

Brief on HPV Vaccine Introduction: Communications & Intersectoral Collaboration – Lessons Learned from Georgia and Uzbekistan Now Available in Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian
Linked coordinated a study tour for the Mongolia Ministry of Health to learn from two of its network peers that had introduced the HPV vaccine in 2019, Uzbekistan and Georgia. As Mongolia and other countries prepare for national introduction of the HPV vaccine, the lessons summarized in this brief, now available in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian, can help them prepare to overcome barriers to sustaining high HPV coverage.

Get to Know Your Linked Steering Committee Representatives in Spotlight Series
Earlier this year, Linked Network Facilitators chatted with representatives from the Steering Committee to learn more about their experiences working in immunisation and what they are most looking forward to from the network, as well as some fun, personal facts about themselves. Below are the final teasers in a series showcasing all the new Steering Committee representatives.

Gayane Sahakyan, National Immunisation Programme Manager, Ministry of Health, Armenia
What do you do professionally? How did you get started in your field?
I started my professional career at the Center of Disease Control and Prevention of Ministry of Health serving in the Immunisation Department, leading on surveillance of a number of diseases, including diphtheria and polio, as well as vaccination coverage.

Lakshmi Somatunga, Additional Secretary (Public Health Services), Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka
What are you most hoping to get out of the network? Which benefits are you most excited to take advantage of and why?
I am excited to bring more quality in to [Linked] and to [focus on] enhancing the capacity of human resources for health (HRH).

Kim Harper, Senior Manager for Policy and Strategic Design, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
Since the launch of the Linked Immunisation Action Network, what aspect of the network have you been most excited about?
I am really excited about the Network’s enhanced role for regional partners as we continue to decentralise the work of the network and build the strength of the relationships at regional and country level. I am also excited about the Network’s renewed focus on impact, working to ensure that all of our learning engagements strive to contribute towards real change at country level and living up to the ‘Action’ in our name!

FEATURED NEWS & RESOURCES

Overcoming Barriers to Vaccine Acceptance in the Community: Key Learning from the Experiences of 734 Frontline Health Workers
What works on the frontlines to build vaccine confidence? This ground-breaking report analyzes 734 case studies on targeted intervention approaches and social and behavioral determinants developed by health professionals from all levels of the health system as part of a peer learning programme by The Geneva Learning Foundation.

Comprehensive Vaccine Demand Training to Strengthen Routine Immunisation and COVID-19 Recovery
The Vaccination Demand Hub held the first-of-its-kind comprehensive training on ‘accelerating recovery of routine immunisation, reaching zero-dose children and promoting COVID-19 vaccine demand with a cohort of almost 600 participants from 92 countries. All the training materials, consisting of training presentations and recorded sessions, are now available to access online in the Demand Hub’s Knowledge Base.

Immunisation Service Experience Toolkit
The Immunisation Service Experience (SE) Toolkit, developed by JSI, can be used by country practitioners in the EPI and implementing partners, as well as global and regional level funders and implementing partners, to understand how service experience applies to immunisation programmes and how it can be used to improve confidence, acceptance, demand, and uptake of vaccination.

COVID-19 Vaccine Demand Global Event Report
To characterize and catalogue innovative, promising, and proven demand interventions, UNICEF, the Ministry of Health Ethiopia, and the Government of Canada held a meeting in collaboration with the COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partnership (CoVDP) and the Global Vaccine Confidence Task Team (VCTT). This event report outlines the key takeaways from the meeting and approaches for enhancing vaccine confidence and uptake through risk communication and community engagement among high-risk and vulnerable groups.

Addressing Insufficient Operational Funding to Reach Zero-Dose Children and Missed Communities
Reaching children and communities missing out on immunisation, and then ensuring newly reached children are fully vaccinated, requires national immunisation programmes to develop and implement context-specific strategies to overcome entrenched obstacles related to access and quality. This new brief, produced by the MOMENTUM Routine Immunization Transformation and Equity project, focuses on a key entrenched obstacle to reaching zero-dose children and missed communities with routine immunisation services—insufficient operational funds available at sub national and facility levels to implement tailored delivery and advocacy strategies to reach specific hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations.

New Animated Video: Reach Zero-Dose Children with Vaccinations in Order to Achieve SDGs
Restoring and leveraging routine immunisation is more important than ever if the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be achieved. This new animated video is an advocacy tool that health sector actors can use to mobilize community health workers and government policymakers to reach zero-dose children in their health and immunisation programmes.

EXTERNAL EVENTS

Call for Contributions for a Pre-Congress Workshop at IHEA 2023
Ahead of the 15th IHEA World Congress on Health Economics in Cape Town in July 2023, a Pre-Congress Workshop for the Immunization Economics Special Interest Group (SIG) is being organized. The workshop, taking place July 8‒9, 2023, will be focused on building capacity to generate economic evidence to support immunisation policy making and program management. Click here to share your thoughts on what topics and skills you would you like to see on the agenda or to submit a proposal to organize a session during the workshop on a related topic.

Call for Abstracts: Vaccine Acceptance Research Network (VARN) 2023 Conference
Sabin Vaccine Institute and UNICEF invite you to submit abstracts for the second annual Vaccine Acceptance Research Network (VARN) Conference, VARN2023, being held from June 13-15, 2023, in Bangkok, Thailand. Abstracts should depict evidence-based research and practical interventions from either completed projects or projects expected to be completed by no later than June 2023, with a focus on social and behavioral science to identify and address barriers towards vaccine acceptance, demand and uptake amongst priority populations. If you’re interested, be sure to look at the submission requirements and submit no later than January 13, 2023, 11:59pm EST.

Full Webinar Series on Reaching Zero-Dose Children
The Zero-Dose Children webinar series, co-hosted by TechNet-21, the Zero-Dose Community of Practice, and the Immunisation Agenda 2030 Working Group on coverage and equity, featured country experiences and good practices for how to reach key populations missed by immunisation and other basic health services.
Webinar Recordings:
Session 1: Urban Immunisation
Session 2: Immunisation in fragile/conflict affected settings
Session 3: Remote rural settings
Session 4: Human resources for missed communities

Digital Transformation Journey of the National Immunisation Information System in Vietnam
The Vietnam National Immunisation Information System (NIIS) has proven to stand the test of time and adversity throughout the 12-year journey of digital transformation from its paper-based system. In this webinar hosted by PATH, panelists shared experiences and lessons learnt on electronic immunisation registry (EIR) implementation in Vietnam, focusing on the phases of nationwide scale-up and paperless transition.

COUNTRY SPOTLIGHTS

Uzbekistan’s Girls are Taking on HPV
The HPV vaccine first rolled out as part of the Uzbek immunisation schedule in 2019. In an effort to stave off misinformation, the government and its partners undertook a major proactive communication campaign. Now, in a blow against cervical cancer, 94% of Uzbek girls aged 12 to 14 have gotten a first dose of the vaccine against the human papillomavirus. Read more on how the country’s strong, multifaceted communication campaign led to such an achievement.

How Storytelling is Helping Girls Access the HPV Vaccine in Ethiopia and Tanzania
Ethiopia and Tanzania introduced HPV nationally for 14-year-old girls, with support from Gavi, in 2018. Both countries experienced a drop off in coverage for the second dose of the vaccine. Find out how the countries are using community engagement and social and behavior change communication strategies to improve awareness and uptake of the HPV vaccine.

Community Health Workers as Vaccinators: A Pathway to Achieving Global Immunisation Goals
A shortage of health workers has made the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in many lower-income countries a major challenge. In Malawi, community health workers are helping to fill the gap. Learn more about their efforts in this feature story.

Using Behavioral Science to Understand Under-vaccination in Kathmandu
Getting every child access to immunisation requires an up-close, specific, and contextual look at the real-world hurdles facing families. In Nepal’s capital, a team of researchers mapped out the barriers using behavioral science methods. Explore their key findings and co-created community solutions.

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