iSC Practitioners’ Forum- a plan for improved immunization supply chains

UNICEF | 21 June 2016 | 0 comments

Participants of the Immunzation Practicioner Forum, June 2016.

© UNICEF

“The ultimate objective is to reach every child with potent vaccines through efficient supply chains. Our role is to support governments in the planning and implementation of interventions to improve supply chain performance,” said Health Specialist EPI, Dr. Saadia Farrukh, UNICEF Pakistan, who was among the 70 participants from 15 countries and partner organizations attending the 30 May – 3 June Immunization Supply Chain (iSC) Practitioners Forum organized and hosted by UNICEF Supply Division in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“The purpose of this forum is to convene iSC practitioners to exchange knowledge, good practices, and lessons learned in the technical areas required for effective vaccine management in their respective countries,” said organizer Ann Hasselbalch, Chief of Supply Chain Strengthening with Governments in UNICEF Supply Division. “WHO and UNICEF are committed to support the efforts of countries to implement immunization supply chain improvements to meet and sustain the 80% benchmark composite score on their Effective Vaccine Management assessments, and thus increase the effectiveness and efficiency of immunization delivery.”

Knowledge teams worked with country teams

Forum participants highlighted the opportunity to network and learn from each other as their prime expectation for the iSC forum. The forum moderators – from the Value Web – guided participants through a high-paced, in-depth, engaging 5 day tour-de-force of immunization supply chain fundamentals and country specific challenges through interactive group work in knowledge teams and country teams, poster sessions and plenary debates.

The forum explored areas of need coming out of the effective vaccine management (EVM) assessment review. Explorations were undertaken in groups, which covered HR capacity development, supply chain system design, cold chain equipment and temperature monitoring, cold chain funding mechanisms, data for management, improvement plan monitoring, procurement planning, and stock management.

Benjamin Schreiber, Senior Health Advisor in UNICEF Programme Division, reiterated the value of the effective and comprehensive vaccine management (EVM) process as a means to achieve immunization outcomes. Countries should achieve and sustain an EVM score above 80%. An extensive review of data from EVM assessments carried out in 82 countries between 2009 and 2014 shows that most countries deal well with vaccine arrivals and processes but score lower on temperature monitoring, stock management, vaccine distribution and information systems.

Next steps: Practitioners plan for improved immunization supply chains

Concluding the iSC forum, country participants shared what they had learned and would take back to incorporate into their respective country plans.

“We will prepare our country context planning and implement accordingly. We will organize a meeting with stakeholders and discuss with seniors,” said Mukunda Gautam, Chief of Immunization, Child Health Division in the Government of Nepal. “I am committed to improving our supply chain management and immunization system. We learned the methodology. We will try to replicate the methodology in the country.”

“The poster session introduced new innovative ideas and they have helped me a lot,” said Guilat Tefera Eshetie from the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia. “We are developing our action plan and I will present this to our colleagues.  In addition to that I have met guys working here in Supply Division who are willing to help us. I’m happy to use it.”

We are all experts

“When I was coming, I thought I was giving some knowledge. But actually I have gained a lot from the countries – not only from my region but from other regions,” said Soloman Chandrasegarar, Regional Immunization Specialist in UNICEF Middle East and North Africa regional office. “The experience people are getting here is not only from the facilitators but equally from the people who are part of programme and are involved. It is an open forum and creates a lot of networking and a lot of connection between the countries, and learning from each other.”

“What binds us together is one common goal to reach every child with life-saving vaccines,” concluded Ann Hasselbalch.

---

Be inspired and learn more

  • Read about the WHO and UNICEF Immunization HUB and the Joint Statement on effective vaccine management.
  • Read more about the Effective Vaccine Management (EVM) initiative.
  • Learn more through the e-learning modules on immunization supply chain management. The course is produced by WHO and UNICEF and published for self-enrolment on Agora (publicly accessible)

Share your thoughts!