Kampala, 13 November 2019: - The Ministry of Health (MoH), with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) recently held a workshop to assess the progress of implementation and performance of the immunization program in Uganda. The review specifically focused on GAVI’s support to Uganda National Expanded Program on Immunization (UNEPI) and its contribution to immunization outcomes in the country.
Partners and government officials identified challenges impeding increased immunization coverage which include low levels of awareness, negative cultural and religious beliefs and low uptake among communities.
The participants highlighted increased investment in the demand for immunization services and a focus on urban immunization as one of the areas that need support. This, they agreed, would be one of the ways to improve immunization outcomes.
While opening the workshop, the UNEPI Program Manager, Dr Alfred Driwale, who represented the Director-General of Health Services informed the participants that Uganda’s immunization coverage is stagnating at 80%. “From a systems perspective, it implies that the systems we are using have become obsolete and we need to devise new strategies/innovations to increase coverage,” he noted.
Dr Driwale further pointed out that in order to increase coverage, the factors hindering demand for the services ought to be addressed, “That way, we shall move from 80% to 100% coverage,” he said. He also emphasized the need to streamline the coordination and accountability mechanisms.
The Immunization Officer at the WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr Shibeshi Messeret Eshetu made remarks on behalf of the WHO Representative in Uganda and re-echoed Dr Driwale’s statement emphasizing the need for coordination to avoid overlaps in implementation.
“Let us understand the government priorities for data, service delivery, logistics support so we ensure transparency among partners as we collaborate,” she said.
Considering the above, a more strategic approach to planning for grants was agreed on including; prioritizing proven interventions that will directly impact quantity and quality of immunization services and; drawing emphasis on results rather than activities with a clear Monitoring and Evaluation framework.
Furthermore, UNEPI and partners agreed to improve budgeting, coordination and synergy in the interventions within and outside WHO and between the health system in line with the National Development Plan priorities and EPI components of the GAVI grants.
WHO is supporting the MoH to strengthen the health system and implement activities using institutions such as the School of Public health, Human Resources for Health Development Institute (HRHDI).
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