Immunization workshop timely as the world deals with Influenza A H1N1
JAPAN, 11 May, 2009 – An update on seasonal and pandemic influenza in the Pacific was highlighted as a priority for discussions at the 5th Pacific Immunization Programme Strengthening (PIPS) Workshop that opened in Nagasaki, Japan on Monday.
Speaking at the opening, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Pacific Representative Dr Isiye Ndombi said while the pandemic was of great concern, it was also important to ensure that it did not hinder efforts to coordinate national immunization programmes in the Pacific.
“I know that it is a challenging time in global health, especially with the current H1N1 pandemic. In many ways I am particularly encouraged that the Japanese Government and the organizers decided to hold strong on the dates of this meeting. While we must ensure that effective steps are taken to contain and limit the H1N1 pandemic, we must not relent on current high impact health strategies. I view the immunization programs as our way into the efficient delivery of health care.”
The five-day PIPS Workshop, which runs from 11 - 15 May, is jointly organized by World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF and features representatives from Pacific Island nations’ ministries of health and regional, global and international health experts.
While welcoming participants, Vice President of the host Nagasaki University, Professor Masahiro Takagi thanked and congratulated WHO, UNICEF, donor agencies and partners for their continued efforts in the different areas of immunization in the Pacific.
“Allow me to convey my sincere appreciation to all participants, particularly, our valuable and trustworthy partners from the Ministry of Health in each of the Pacific Island Countries who have all extended their full cooperation on various J-PIPS (Japanese support to PIPS) national and regional activities aimed to help improve immunization service provision in the island countries,” said Professor Takagi.
“We anticipate that as a result of the success of the PIPS strategy, the Pacific Islands have been strengthened to manage EPI programs with more confidence and tenacity. The knowledge and technology transfer in vaccine management, as well as the cold chain equipments supplies will be the basis of future activities and cooperation among the island countries,” he added.
The workshop also has representatives from other donor agencies, which include the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC)and Prevention and the Rotary International District 2650.
The PIPS initiative was established in 2004 as a regional mechanism to coordinate and mobilize technical and financial support to national immunization programmes in the PICs. Annual PIPS workshops aim to provide opportunities to build capacity, share best practices, establish practical solutions to overcome obstacles and further strengthen partnerships.