WASHINGTON, D.C. — May 25, 2017 — Today, Results for Development (R4D) announced it will serve as the coordinator of a new peer learning platform to help countries (whose national immunization programs are currently supported by the Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance) move toward full domestic financing, and avoid interruptions in immunization coverage and activities during the transition.
As many countries pursue universal health coverage in the context of rising incomes and plateauing or declining donor assistance, maintaining and expanding effective coverage of essential immunization services will require careful planning for sustainability within macro-fiscal constraints. The Learning Network for Countries in Transition (LNCT) will bring together practitioners from transitioning countries and development partners to learn from each other around specific Gavi transition-related challenges that exist within broader health system and UHC reform processes.
“Peer learning is an effective and efficient approach for supporting implementation across multiple countries. It responds to the immediate needs of countries and produces practical tools that are likely to be utilized,” said Gina Lagomarsino, president and CEO at Results for Development. “We’ve seen success with this approach through our work on other peer-to-peer learning network models, and hope to build a similarly active and engaged community of experts through this new platform.”
In the coming years, significant increases in domestic financing for immunization programs will be needed to expand and sustain immunization programs in low- and lower-middle-income countries. As a country’s economy grows, it crosses Gavi’s eligibility threshold and begins to transition out of support. Transitioning countries often face challenges in achieving high and equitable immunization coverage, and in planning, budgeting and securing adequate financing of their immunization program after Gavi support ends. Insufficient planning can lead to gaps in vaccine coverage, which in turn result in a rise of vaccine-preventable deaths and debilitating illnesses.
For Gavi-transitioning countries, LNCT offers the opportunity to share transition planning and implementation experience, work together to solve common problems, and add to a global knowledge base of tools and approaches that contribute to successful transition. For development partners, this platform offers the chance to engage across countries on transition-related issues. LNCT will consist of both in-person and virtual engagements. The initial cohort of platform members will draw from 13 invited countries in various stages of Gavi transition, with potential membership expansion in 2018 and 2019.
“The ultimate goal of this platform is to improve sustainability of national immunization programs,” said Meghan O’Connell, program officer and LNCT project lead at Results for Development. “More immediately, though, participation can help countries tackle specific technical challenges related to Gavi transition. This will reduce the chance that vaccines will be dropped after a country transitions away from Gavi support, increase the chance that coverage will be maintained or increased and ensure that countries have the skills and ability to introduce new vaccines in the future.”
The platform, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will host its inaugural meeting in May to identify technical topics that can then be taken forward by the relevant countries for more focused engagement. The countries that will be represented at the launch meeting include Armenia, Congo, Georgia, Ghana, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Moldova, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.