By Laurie Werner, Global Director, BID Initiative, PATH
Immunization is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions. But even as countries achieve national and global targets for immunization coverage, they often face challenges immunizing the children who are hardest to reach with life-saving vaccines.
Led by PATH in partnership with the governments of Tanzania and Zambia, the BID Initiative developed a series of data quality and use interventions to improve immunization service delivery. Chief among those interventions was an electronic immunization registry (EIR), which BID worked with users to design, develop, and implement in both countries.
Today more than half a million children have been registered in both EIRs and health workers are already reporting significant improvements in immunization service delivery. They are more empowered than ever to use data for decision-making around immunization. In Zambia, for example, health workers reported a 28 percent increase in their ability to identify areas with low vaccine coverage. In Tanzania, health workers spend 41 percent less time registering and updating each child in immunization records thanks to the EIRs automatic reporting features.
BID is committed to helping other countries avoid the costly and time-consuming ramp-up often required of digital health interventions, and so has packaged its learnings and developed a series of generic tools that may help other countries benefit from BID’s experience in Tanzania and Zambia.
- Encyclopedia of Lessons Learned: This comprehensive encyclopedia documents our learnings at every stage of BID’s journey from the design and testing of data quality and use interventions, on through implementation. The encyclopedia is organized by intervention type and provides background, a summary of lessons learned, and recommendations for each. We explore the reasons for shifting rollout strategies, the initial use of video games in select test facilities as a training tool, and change readiness assessments, among other intervention types.
- Briefs: Recommendations and Lessons Learned: The BID Initiative is committed to sharing its learnings with others interested in improving immunization data quality and use. The following series of briefs summarizes our work alongside the governments of Tanzania and Zambia and our lessons and recommendations spanning seven key subject areas, including change management, EIRs, and peer learning.
- Generic Tools: Though data quality and use interventions must be tailored to meet the different needs of countries and health contexts, many implementation tools can be recycled, modified, and reapplied. Over the last five years, we have created several planning, implementation, and data strengthening tools for use in Tanzania and Zambia. We have taken the most frequently used tools from both countries and made them generic so that countries can reuse and modify them for their specific needs.
BID also recently launched a regional program to help other countries embracing data quality and use interventions. It emerged from the need to share experiences, lessons learned, and technical expertise acquired during implementation. The regional program builds on BID’s legacy in Tanzania and Zambia over the past five years and will support African countries as they work to select, introduce, and implement digital health and change management interventions to improve their own routine immunization programs.
About the Author
Laurie Werner has worked with PATH since 2011, with a focus on immunization systems, health systems strengthening, and digital health. Prior to joining PATH, Laurie served in the leadership of Agros International as their Director of Program for eight years. She led a multi-faceted program focused on sustainable agriculture and land ownership, managing the implementation and operations in five country offices in Central America and Mexico. She currently leads the BID Initiative portfolio of work, which focuses on improving immunization data collection, quality, and use for better decision-making in African countries. She also provides leadership to the Data Use Partnership in Tanzania and other efforts such as the Immunization Data: Evidence into Action (IDEA) work. She served as a member of the Decade of Vaccines Collaboration Secretariat where she coordinated working groups of experts and external consultation events to support the creation of the Global Vaccine Action Plan. Laurie has an M.P.A. from the University of Washington.