South Sudan strategizes towards strengthening the health systems to improve the quality and coverage of immunization services

Juba, 9 November 2018 - To improve immunization outcomes in South Sudan, the Ministry of Health with support from WHO and partners conducted an annual joint appraisal of the country’s immunization programme from 6 to 9 November 2018.

The Joint Appraisal is a multi-stakeholder review of the implementation of the progress and performance of Gavi’s vaccine and cash grant support,  

The objective of the review was to show progress, identify challenges, highlight areas where greater national and partners’ investments and efforts are needed including technical support, required to improve immunization coverage and equity; the findings is important in informing Gavi’s decision on the renewal of its grants, and enable consideration of how to optimize its support to help improve immunization outcomes.

Vaccination is the main tool for primary prevention of disease and one of the most cost-effective public health measures available. 

“We appreciate Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, other donors and partners who are supporting the immunization programme to prevent disease and save lives” said Dr Richard Lino Lako, Director General Policy, Planning, Research and Budgeting at the opening ceremony of the meeting. Despite the efforts that have made the country polio free, South Sudan continues to report outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases due to low vaccination coverage rates; hence we need to work in a transparent and collective way to improve the coverage of immunization, underscored Dr Lako.

In South Sudan, the challenges faced by the country include a weak health system, inadequate human resource that provide  immunization services, poor access in some areas, costly operating environment among others have contributed to low immunization coverage. To address this issues it is essential that the health systems is strengthened  and use of innovative approaches are applied to improve the quality and coverage of immunization services in the country.

Some other concerns raised was need to strengthen the leadership and coordination between the EPI partnership at the national level and HPF who are the implementing partners, need to train and retain health workers and need to devise mechanisms for better  data triangulation to guide program decision.

To ensure that immunization services are  not only improved but sustained it is vital that linkages between immunization funding, national priorities, and policy formation that support immunization and health system development, are strengthened,  said Dr Olu, Olushayo, WHO Representative for South Sudan.

On behalf of WHO and partners, Dr Olu thanked Gavi and other donors for their support and  reassured them of getting value for the resources they are providing to save the lives of children and mothers.

At the end of the Joint Appraisal, Ms. Patience Musanhu, Gavi Senior Country Manager for South Sudan, thanked the Ministry of Health and partners for their commitment in improving immunization.  She urged all partners to think of innovative ways where they will work differently and demonstrate results of having immunizing more children of South Sudan.

In his closing remarks, Dr Makur Matur Kariom, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Health expressed his appreciation for the additional funding from Gavi and underscored the commitment of the Ministry of Health to immunize all South Sudanese children. 

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