SIVAC Initiative and WAHO Support the Establishment of NITAGs in Benin and Senegal

Paris, April 4, 2013 - The SIVAC Initiative of the Agence de Médecine Préventive (AMP), in collaboration with the West African Health Organization (WAHO), supported the creation of National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups (NITAGs) in Benin and Senegal in March 2013. The committees, which were created through ministerial decree, are named “Comité Consultatif pour la Vaccination au Sénégal (CCVS)” and “Comité National pour la Vaccination et les Vaccins du Bénin (CNCV),” respectively.

A NITAG is a technical body of national experts that empowers and advises the Ministry of Health on all topics related to vaccines and immunization (e.g., introduction of new vaccines, appropriate vaccine schedules, and research priorities). NITAGs work in synergy with existing vaccine-related committees to support the use of scientific evidence in decisions on immunization programs and policies.

The CCVS and CNCV are the third and fourth NITAGs to be established in sub-Saharan Africa and the sixth and seventh to be created with SIVAC support (following Côte d'Ivoire, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Mozambique). The particularity of these two committees is that they were developed as part of a regional approach with WAHO to create NITAGs in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region, and a network of NITAGs in the sub-region.

SIVAC and WAHO helped national teams in Benin and Senegal to develop NITAG concept papers and terms of reference based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, and taking into consideration the specific national context.

“The establishment of these two NITAGs is a sign of the strong collaboration between SIVAC and WAHO and more globally, between AMP and WAHO. The two organizations have collaborated for years on various public health projects and renewed their partnership agreement in 2009,” said Dr. Alex Adjagba, SIVAC Director.

SIVAC will now support the functioning of the CCVS and CNCV to ensure that they issue recommendations based on evidence and local characteristics. The opening ceremonies of these committees will be organized in the next few weeks. SIVAC will also continue to advocate for and support the establishment of additional NITAGs in the ECOWAS region, working in collaboration with WAHO, A dozen of countries have expressed their willingness to establish such committees in the sub-region, such as Nigeria and Ghana, where the development process is already underway.

Established in 2009, the SIVAC Initiative is implemented by AMP in partnership with the International Vaccine Institute (IVI). The Initiative primarily aims to support the creation or strengthening of sustainable NITAGs in low- and middle-income countries, in order to enhance the use of evidence-based decision-making processes in the development of national immunization programs and policies. In addition to the NITAGs mentioned above, SIVAC currently supports the strengthening of NITAGs in Indonesia, Lebanon, Nepal, Tunisia, and Vietnam.

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