Linked Community News April 2023

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

The Linked Network is working hard to plan engaging and action-oriented regional workshops and study tours focused on preventing backsliding in coverage through building and sustaining high-performing and equitable immunisation programmes. We are also planning cross-regional workshops and webinars among countries planning for the introduction of key missing vaccines. Priority topics for these upcoming learning exchanges include strengthening the capacity and motivation of the health workforce, sustaining high and equitable vaccine coverage, and increasing access to key missing vaccines. Please stay tuned for lessons learned from these exciting country exchanges!

Our global and regional partners have launched timely new resources and tools to support countries to strengthen equitable and sustainable access to immunisation services. UNICEF launched the eagerly anticipated Strategic Vaccine Procurement e-course, which will provide key knowledge on considerations for vaccine procurement to strengthen capacity and ensure sustainable access to and timely supply of affordable vaccines. Additionally, several resources focus on improving equity and reaching zero-dose and underimmunised children, including a Featured Issue summarizing key evidence to advocate for gender equity, evidence-based knowledge summaries and advocacy briefs to inform policy and advocacy related to zero-dose, and a brief for decision-makers to identify, reach, and monitor zero-dose and underimmunised children.

There are also upcoming opportunities to meet with immunisation colleagues across the globe, such as the 17th TechNet Conference, which will focus on “Immunisation Programs That Leave No One Behind”, as well as IHEA’s 2023 Immunization Economics Pre-Congress session, focused on immunisation costing, financing, economics, and decision-making.

We hope you are excited about the months ahead and all that we will learn together. We look forward to seeing you soon at one of our workshops or online!

Warm regards,

Your Linked Network Facilitation Team from Curatio International Foundation (Tbilisi), the Institute for Health Policy (Colombo), and Results for Development (Washington, DC)

NETWORK UPDATES

Did You Catch Last Year’s Most Popular Linked Resources? In Case You Missed It, Check Out Our Top 10 Resource Round-up
We compiled the top 10 most popular Linked-produced resources from 2022 to help you identify the strategies, good practices, and lessons learned that will lead to greater resilience, equity, and sustainability for your national immunisation programme. Learn more about transitioning from paper-based to electronic immunisation registry systems, increasing demand and coverage for vaccines, strengthening the delivery of immunisation services, and so much more in this resource round-up, available in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian!

FEATURED NEWS & RESOURCES

UNICEF’s Strategic Vaccine Procurement e-course
UNICEF, in close collaboration with global partners, developed this e-learning course on vaccine procurement with a focus on the strategic vaccine procurement cycle and its processes. The course is intended to provide a background on key considerations for buyers on vaccine procurement to strengthen capacity to ensure sustainable access to and timely supply of affordable vaccines. With further understanding of the vaccine development process from this e-course, as well as an overview on manufacturing, markets, and vaccine security – the sustainable access to affordable, quality assured vaccines can be achieved.

Introducing the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) in Jordan
Jordan is one of five WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) countries (alongside Egypt, Islamic Republic of Iran, Somalia, and the Syrian Arab Republic) that has yet to introduce PCV into the national schedule. This evidence-based report on PCV use globally and within the EMRO region was compiled to support discussions with Jordan’s National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) members with respect to PCV introduction and can help equip in-country decision-makers with evidence-based information to inform the decision to introduce PCV.

Vaccine Communication: Appeals and Messengers Most Effective for COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake in Ukraine
This study sought to evaluate three different appeals (health outcomes from COVID-19 infection, vaccination as a social norm, and the economic impact of COVID-19 infection) delivered by two different potential messengers, a healthcare provider compared to a peer, on COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in Ukraine. The study findings can help public health, immunisation practitioners, and government agencies to more effectively promote vaccines to a variety of target audiences.

Integrating a Gender Lens into Uganda’s Advocacy and Demand Generation Plan for COVID-19 Vaccines
While Uganda has made significant progress in increasing access to immunisation in recent years, vaccine inequity remains a challenge. The PATH Uganda team supported the Ugandan government in the development of an advocacy and demand generation handbook with a gender lens to address the inequitable distribution of immunisations among women and girls. This case study summarizes the strategy and outlines the challenges and enabling factors.

An Equity Analysis of Zero-Dose Children in India Using the National Family Health Survey Data: Status, Challenges, and Next Steps
The Immunization Agenda 2030 aims to halve the number of zero-dose (ZD) children by 2030, and the Gavi 5.0 strategy envisages health systems to sustainably reach all ZD and under-immunised children and their communities with the full range of vaccines as the first step toward providing integrated primary healthcare (PHC) services.  In line with these targets and strategy, the Government of India has prioritized efforts to reach its estimated 1.6 million ZD children. This in-depth analysis of ZD children in India was undertaken to identify critical determining factors and the interventions necessary to address existing challenges.

How Data Systems Can Help Reach Zero-dose and Under-immunised Children
This brief is for government decision-makers, funders, and partners who are involved in advancing health information systems and data tools for identifying, reaching, and monitoring zero-dose and under-immunised children. It highlights findings and recommendations from the Landscape Analysis of Health Information Systems and Data Tools for Identifying, Reaching, and Monitoring Zero-Dose and Under-immunised Children.

Mapping of Pro-Equity Interventions Proposed by Immunisation Programs in Gavi Health Systems Strengthening Grants
There is still a knowledge gap about which interventions can be implemented to best reach zero-dose children, how much they cost, and how to sustain progress. Understanding which interventions are already being implemented to best reach zero-dose children is one step towards building this evidence base. This study mapped pro-equity strategies implemented in 13 Gavi-supported countries through review of Joint Appraisal (JA) reports from 2016 to 2019 to improve immunisation equity and to understand how these investments can help prioritisation of interventions moving forward.

Advancing Immunisation Coverage and Equity: A Structured Synthesis of Pro-Equity Strategies in 61 Gavi-Supported Countries
To understand how countries are currently addressing gaps with zero-dose and under-immunised children, thismapping and analysis of pro-equity strategies for immunisation was conducted across 61 low-income countries receiving programmatic support from Gavi. The synthesis aimed to identify current practices and promising opportunities to reach zero-dose and underimmunised children in LMICs and to inform the creation of a searchable database to enable countries to identify potential solutions to immunisation challenges and support country-level programmatic planning.

Breaking the Barriers: How Gender Equity Advances Immunisation
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated existing global gender inequities that impact the accessibility of immunisations to women and children worldwide, influencing their access to health services, education, and economic opportunities. Although girls and boys in most settings are equally likely to be vaccinated, evidence has found that advancing global gender equity can play an important role in ensuring all children have access to vital health resources such as immunisation. This VoICE Featured Issue summarizes key evidence on gender equity and its impact on immunisation and zero-dose.

Zero-Dose Knowledge Summaries and Briefs
IVAC produced a series of five evidence-based knowledge summaries and advocacy briefs to inform policy and advocacy work to increase equitable immunisation access for all. The Knowledge Summaries present a snapshot of the available scientific evidence on a specific topic or area of interest related to zero-dose children, highlighting key findings from the latest peer-reviewed literature. The accompanying Advocacy Briefs present additional information as well as contextual details to give a more thorough overview and provide additional resources.

Cost-effectiveness of Sub-national Geographically Targeted Vaccination Programs: A Systematic Review
Immunisation is an essential component of national health plans, however, the growing number of new vaccine introductions, vaccination campaigns, and increasing administrative costs create logistic and financial challenges, especially in resource-limited settings. This systematic review explores evidence on the cost-effectiveness of different types of geographically targeted sub-national vaccination programs, which can serve as a potential strategy for governments to reduce the impact of infectious disease outbreaks while optimizing resource allocation and reducing costs.

Improving Immunisation Coverage and Equity Resource Repository
This repository of key guidance, selected from the TechNet-21 Knowledge Hub, contains resources of relevance to improving coverage and equity of immunisation services that can be used by national immunisation program staff and partners.

Immunisation Decision-Making Resource Catalogue
The Decision-Making Resource Catalogue is a repository of existing tools, databases, and guidance documents that can be used as the basis for the collection of high quality evidence to support vaccine decision-making. Intended users include country-level decision-makers at all levels in the health sector, international partner organizations, and other policy making and coordination bodies.

EXTERNAL EVENTS

17th TechNet Conference Now Accepting Abstracts
The TechNet Conference enables immunisation professionals to meet and discuss the latest developments in immunisation practice and policy. This year’s TechNet Conference will take place in Panama City from October 16 to 19, 2023 with a theme of “Immunisation Programs That Leave No One Behind.” If you would like to submit an abstract for a presentation or poster, fill out this form no later than May 5, 2023.

Registration is OPEN for the IHEA 2023 Immunization Economics Pre-Congress
Registration is now open for the Immunization Economics 2023 IHEA Pre-Congress on July 8-9, 2023, in Cape Town, South Africa. The session will bring together early-career to seasoned researchers from academic institutions, NGOs, and multinational organizations to exchange knowledge on the latest research methods and approaches in immunisation costing, financing, economics, and decision-making. You can find more details on themes here. Anyone with an interest in immunisation economics can register, regardless of whether you are an IHEA member or whether you are planning to attend the main Congress. You can find the link to the registration form as well as other relevant details on the IHEA 2023 webpage. Registration will close if all spots are filled up, or latest by May 31, 2023.

UNICEF VPPN Webinar on Cross-country Collaboration for Vaccine Procurement
UNICEF’s Vaccine Procurement Practitioners Network (VPPN) held a webinar discussion that featured government representatives from Thailand and Malaysia, as well as UNICEF experts, on the topic of regional collaboration for immunisation and vaccine procurement. Panelists illustrated how to leverage cross-country collaboration regarding vaccine procurement and shared their lessons learnt from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar recording and all related resources are available at the following links:

Webinar Series on Life Course and Integration
This webinar series, organized by the IA2030 Working Group for Life Course and Integration, showcases examples from immunisation programmes that are successfully working toward an integrated life course approach to vaccination. The series will run throughout 2023 on a monthly basis and cover broad topics including school vaccination platforms, opportunities for adult vaccination, integrated health campaigns, integrating nutrition and immunisation services… and more! Check out the recordings of the first three sessions on TechNet-21, available in English and French.

COUNTRY SPOTLIGHTS

Tackling Vaccine Hesitancy with Art and Dialogue in Bolivia
In some remote communities across Bolivia, the COVID-19 vaccine was met with a mixture of rumor and distrust. To turn the tide on vaccine hesitancy and increase acceptance, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), in collaboration with the Bolivian Ministry of Health and Sports and the Departmental Health Service of La Paz, developed a strategy based on community dialogue, inclusion, music, and theatre, called “Vaccine Action”. Learn how their mobilization and outreach efforts impacted vaccine acceptance rates in this new story from PAHO.

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