Immunization saves more than three million lives each year. But disparities in immunization rates between developing and developed countries persist. At least two million people die each year from vaccine preventable diseases, the majority of them young children in poor countries.
The African Vaccine Challenge
Despite evidence of progress, introduction of new vaccines and vaccination coverage remain low in many West African countries. This is due, in part, to inadequate funding for routine immunization. While the 2001 Abuja Declaration committed African countries to allocate 15% of their national budget to health, few of them have achieved this goal. Additional challenges include weak healthcare facilities at district level, shortages of skilled health workers, and insufficient support for immunization.
To improve and sustain immunization gains in Africa, it is necessary to develop advocacy strategies that encourage countries to: increase public demand for immunization, expand funding for immunization, and improve immunization services.
AMP is supporting African countries to strengthen national capacity for advocacy for immunization financing through ADVIM (ADVocacy for IMmunization). Established in 2009 with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the three-year program is implemented in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’Ivoire.
Sustainable Advocacy Model, Situation Analysis, Training
The project’s long-term goal is to create an advocacy model for all levels of the health system that can be rolled out across sub-Saharan Africa.
As a first step, ADVIM conducted a situation analysis in all three participating countries describing obstacles, innovative solutions, and advocacy tools for immunization financing. The purpose was to develop a work plan for each country based on the study findings. Carried out in collaboration with national immunization partners and with the technical support from the EPIVAC International Network (EPINET), the study highlighted the lack of national capacity for advocacy for immunization financing. To help overcome this gap, ADVIM has developed a website featuring a best practices observatory, documentation, and technical resources for advocacy.
In addition, ADVIM has developed a six-month blended training program adapted to local needs. After a pilot trial, the program will be handed over to national and regional public health training institutions to ensure sustainability.
Collaborating for Advocacy
ADVIM is a collaborative effort involving key stakeholders such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), and governments. A main project partner is the EPIVAC International Network (EPINET), a group of about 400 health professionals involved in immunization in sub-Saharan Africa.