Week 2: Reducing inequities and improving coverage

It’s not just about immunization: vaccination as a part of integrated health services

This blog post is part of a series about the WHO Scholar programme’s webinar series in May and June 2019 about reducing inequities and improving coverage for immunization. Learn more and register for the webinars

“Your job is not about immunization, not just about a single health topic. There is a wide-range of different health and even non-health topics being covered.”  So Aaron Wallace from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said in his introduction to over 700 immunization Scholars from 33 countries attending the second of six WHO Scholar programme webinars about reducing inequity and improving coverage.

Lead presenter Emily Wootton introduced the World Health Organization’s resource guide for the integration of immunization services throughout the life course. This publication is one of four new global guidelines presented in the webinar series to support Scholars leading change to improve immunization outcomes in their district, region, or country.

Watch the recording of this WHO Scholar programme webinar

“As we move to a life course approach for immunization, if we want to [achieve] impact, we really need to work in a different way. Integration with other programmes is going to become more and more important” added Wootton.

“Strong immunization systems, as part of broader health systems and closely coordinated with other primary health care delivery programmes are essential for achieving immunization goals” explained Emily Wootton.

So how do we integrate the delivery of vaccines along the life course? “Integration requires a global approach and an understanding of each specific context to be efficient” said Aaron Wallace. Wootton and Wallace warned Scholars to be “very careful” about the interventions they choose to integrate and ask themselves whether the changes they propose are going to be acceptable. “Don’t try to do everything all at once.”

WHO defines integrated health services as “health services that are managed and delivered so that people receive a continuum of health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, disease-management, rehabilitation and palliative care services, coordinated across the different levels and sites of care within and beyond the health sector, and according to their needs throughout the life course”.

By 6 July 2019, this new WHO Scholar programme cohort will create hundreds of peer-reviewed, context-specific action plans to improve immunization outcomes, helping to transform four different WHO and UNICEF guidelines into action.“We would love these projects that people develop now to be implemented in the future,” concludes Emily Wootton.

About the WHO Scholar programme webinar series and course to reduce inequities and improve coverage

  • Over 2,000 immunization professionals from 96 countries have registered to participate in this open webinar series, with more than a third of active participants working at the district level.
  • 300 have been selected by the World Health Organization to participate in the first cohort of the WHO Scholar Level 2 certification in reducing inequities and improving coverage.
  • By 6 July 2019, this cohort will create hundreds of peer-reviewed, context-specific action plans to improve immunization outcomes, helping to transform WHO guidelines into action.