UNICEF Helps Strengthen National Immunisation System
SKOPJE, 14 November 2008: Over 300 health workers from the preventive health teams and health staff from the maternity wards have participated in a new continuous medical education programme to learn new protocols and practices in immunisation. This programme is part of a larger package of interventions being led by the Ministry of Health with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to strengthen the country’s immunisation system. The need of continuous medical education programme builds on the findings of a compensative review of the immunisation system conducted earlier this year.
Reflecting on the findings of the comprehensive review of the immunisation system, UNICEF Representative, Mr Sheldon Yett indicated that “immunisation coverage remains high. However, to ensure that quality services are delivered efficiently, long-term evidence based planning and financing needs to be strengthened.”
The comprehensive review of the immunization system included an analysis of the relevant policies and legal framework; a performance appraisal of the immunization programme management in the context of the current health reforms; an assessment of the immunization surveillance system and assessment of the vaccine supply system, including maintenance of the cold chain system. While the overall system was evaluated as being strong it also identified areas needing to be further strengthened including: long-term planning and financing of immunisation programme, upgrading the immunization surveillance system, replacement of outdated cold chain equipment, and, further strengthen the capacity of immunisation health workers through continued professional education.
Efforts to improve long-term evidence based planning and financing of the immunization programme are also underway. Working with local experts from the national immunisation committee within the Ministry of Health , UNICEF and WHO are providing technical assistance to support the development of a National Multi-Year Immunization Plan. The plan will be presented and reviewed by the Ministry of Health later this year and is expected to be endorsed by the Government during 2009.
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