The sustained success of introducing new vaccines, controlling vaccine-preventable diseases, and accelerating disease control depends on a well-functioning routine immunization (RI) system. However, there is no “one size fits all” approach for strengthening RI, and MCSP recognizes that the priorities and challenges of immunization programs vary across countries. To address this, we work closely with in-country partners to develop customized approaches to meet individual country needs.
MCSP focuses on improving RI performance through a systems strengthening approach to reinforce a sustainable platform for the safe and timely delivery of traditional and new vaccines. At national and sub-national levels, MCSP utilizes a wealth of program experience to provide technical leadership, contributing to advisory groups and influencing global and regional RI policies and strategies. At the country level, we are helping to close the equity gap by implementing innovative ways to reach the hard-to-reach with services by adapting the Reaching Every District (RED) approach to Reaching Every Community (REC).
In an effort to sustain the gains achieved in vaccination coverage and control strategies, the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) has called for a shift from RED to REC so as to close the equity gap in coverage, address systemic weaknesses, and accelerate activities to increase and sustain RI coverage over time. The “unimmunized” and “under-immunized” tend to be disproportionately concentrated among marginalized populations, in the lowest wealth quintiles, and beyond traditional community structures. MCSP is supporting this effort across its country programs in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, and Nigeria.
In Uganda, for example, building on work initiated under the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program, MCSP added elements of a quality improvement approach to transition from RED to REC. In Tanzania and Kenya, MCSP is tackling the perennial problem of poor supervision by implementing RAPID* methods using planning tools that target services and identify support requirements. And we continue to apply innovative techniques to improve newborn tracking and timeliness of vaccination by applying tools to engage existing community networks.
MCSP is strengthening the capacity of in-country counterparts through improved in-service training, more effective supportive supervision with on-the-job mentoring, and peer-to-peer learning. In most country programs, we are collaborating with medical and nursing schools to incorporate immunization into pre-service education materials, making health workers and immunization managers better equipped to deliver high-quality services from the start.
* The RAPID (Regular Appraisal of Program Implementation in a District) model, developed by MCHIP in India, helps program managers improve the quality of the immunization program and service delivery, focusing on: program management; cold chain, vaccine and logistics management; immunization safety and waste disposal; recording, reporting and use of data for action.