04 – Polio, measles and new vaccines: bridging across the interventions

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This session brought together panellists from civil society, research, government, and international organisations, to discuss what it takes to leverage campaign initiatives to strengthen routine immunisation in a lively moderated discussion.

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Copyright UNICEF/2012/Abdul Aziz Froutan

This session brought together panellists from civil society, research, government, and international organisations, to discuss what it takes to leverage campaign initiatives to strengthen routine immunisation in a lively moderated discussion.

Recognising that campaigns like measles and polio are essential for disease elimination or eradication, but can also compromise the success of routine immunisation, panellists discussed practical and tangible initiatives.

Discussion began with an overview of the global status of polio and measles, which then moved into concrete steps towards strengthening routine immunisation. Two key messages from the session were ownership, at the national level, but particularly at the sub-national level, and the need to directly finance routine immunisation systems.

Examples of Bihar, India and Angola were given where some success with strengthening routine immunisation during intense polio campaigns was attributed to the governments pushing health programmers and international partners to leverage surge resources to go beyond vertical programming.

But despite these examples, participants in the audiences commented on the tension that is sometimes created on focusing in vertical programmes at the expense of routine systems. One participant commented, “It is because routine immunisation is so weak, that campaigns are so strong.” Conversation continued on the need to advocate for direct financing to routine immunisation.

District micro-planning for SIAS and national routine immunisation plans was another example where routinely missed children could be found and brought into routine systems.

The need for new vaccines in routine immunisation was also highlighted, with vaccine preventable deaths still a major cause for mortality and morbidity in Africa. Citing the need to finish off polio, one panellist stated that “All energy [from existing polio and measles efforts] can be given to deliver these other routine vaccinations.”

Future opportunities were also discussed, for example the possibility of leveraging networks like that of Rotary International focused on polio eradication to also advocate for routine immunisation.

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