National Immunization Programme explore innovative approaches to increase immunization coverage
Video conference technology used to catch up on immunization programme affected by COVID-19 in Lao PDR
COVID-19 pandemic has affected every sector in the world. Immunization coverage dropped globally and Lao PDR is experiencing a similar fate. On top of that, the country was already bearing the brunt of the prevailing measles outbreak, particularly in Savannakhet province; the largest province.
As the lockdown has been lifted, the National Immunization Programme (NIP) was exploring innovative methods to increase the coverage by reaching out to the community but as well as the frontline workers.
With physical distancing practice in place, it was an arduous task to reach the community and work at the grassroots level. Then the NIP came up with an idea to use Digital technology to initially reach out to the provinces, if successful, apply the same approach in district or even health center levels.
“Adversity always brings opportunity,” said the Deputy director NIP Dr. Chansay in her opening remarks. “COVID-19 has now allowed us to learn new technology to ensure we do not leave anyone behind,” she added.
On 24 July first video conference was organized with support from UNICEF and WHO to connect central NIP staff to their provincial counterparts. The agenda of the conference was to provide just basic orientation and help staff get used to the online training. Likewise, on 5 August, a follow-up video conference was organized where Provincial Expanded Programme on Immunization(EPI) managers presented on the upcoming Midyear EPI review and the plan for the next 5 months to catch up on immunization coverage that lagged due to COVID-19.
The members of the meeting were impressed with the capacity of the technology and have agreed to do it more often to keep track of each other’s work.