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Understanding the policy environment for immunization supply chains: Lessons learned from landscape analyses in Uganda and Senegal

Tuesday, 4th of April 2017 Print

Abstract below; full text is at


Volume 35, Issue 17, 19 April 2017, Pages 2141–2147

Understanding the policy environment for immunization supply chains: Lessons learned from landscape analyses in Uganda and Senegal 

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As immunization programs around the world undergo rapid change and expansion, supply chain and logistics systems have become strained, making it increasingly challenging for national public health systems to provide reliable, safe, and efficient access to vaccines. Governments and immunization partners have been aware of this problem for several years, and in 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Effective Vaccine Management (EVM) process to help countries identify shortcomings in their immunization supply chains and develop plans for systematic improvement. EVM improvement plans now exist in all Gavi-eligible countries plus many middle- and upper-income countries; however, implementation has been slow and in many cases fraught with financial, managerial, structural, and political roadblocks. Recognizing that significant change of any kind requires a supportive policy environment and strong leadership, PATH began working in Uganda and Senegal to landscape the policy environment around immunization and identify relevant policies, administrative and technical roles and responsibilities, and other issues that may be affecting the supply chain for immunization.

The policy landscape assessments included a desk review and a series of structured, in-depth interviews with key international, national, and local stakeholders. The findings highlighted a number of critical issues and challenges in both countries that may be preventing supply chains from functioning optimally. These challenges include a need for better coordination and planning between immunization programs and supply chain managers; the need for sufficient, timely and reliable financing for all aspects of immunization programs; the need for high-level managers trained in immunization supply chain management; and an urgent need for better, more timely data for decision-making. Overcoming these challenges will require the involvement of high-level political actors—including ministers of health and finance, parliamentarians, and other officials who have the ability to approve and influence policy, personnel, and structural changes; ensure work plans are backed with adequate resources for implementation; and hold program managers accountable for achieving agreed indicators.

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