JSI Research & Training Institute leads the UNICEF-funded Support for Introduction of New Vaccines and Routine Immunization Strengthening program in Malawi. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, JSI supports the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) to introduce new vaccines and strengthen routine immunization systems at national and district levels.
Malawi was one of the most successful countries in Africa with consistently high immunization coverage among children under one year of age. The EPI program is one of the most cost-effective programs that has contributed to achieving MDGs for children under-five years old. In recent years, however, immunization coverage has declined due to the weak current economic environment and inadequate resource allocation for the immunization program in Malawi. With the unstable economic environment and limited resource mobilization for immunization services, it is even more critical to sustain high-quality immunization coverage.
Additionally, Malawi plans to introduce new vaccines in 2016-2017, and this requires adequate storage capacity and a high quality of vaccine management to avoid wastage of the vaccines. New vaccine introduction also requires intense mobilization of communities to create demand and utilization of services. Through this partnership, JSI works with UNICEF and WHO to support the EPI unit introduce and evaluate new vaccines, and improve efficiency of the immunization program through improved vaccine management, supportive supervision and community mobilization.
Key program objectives include:
- advancing social mobilization and communication interventions for immunization that benefit communities;
- developing a comprehensive improvement plan (CIP) to serve as roadmap for effective vaccine management;
- ensuring successful nationwide switch from tOPV to bOPV and bOPV integrated into routine immunization system;
- training health service providers on effective vaccine management and ensuring regular supportive supervision to improve immunization program management; and
- completing post-introduction evaluation for measles second dose vaccine.
The program also provides short-term technical support and assistance to select districts to improve routine immunization services.