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The annual Essential Programme on Immunization (EPI) Managers’ meeting for West Africa was virtually held between 15-17 June 2022, gathering EPI Managers from the 17 countries covered by IST West Africa.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss, align and give recommendations on key issues affecting the immunization program, as well as to deliberate on strategies to improve the performance of the EPI, which was negativelyy impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The participating countries were Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
The meeting was facilitated by staff from WHO, UNICEF, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) Atlanta, the West African Health Organization (WAHO), and Agence de Médecine Préventive (AMP).
During the meeting, special focus was given on the need to tackle funding issues while trying to expand access and accelerate efforts in reaching zero- dose populations. COVID-19 vaccinations were also highlighted, for which innovations should be sought to increase coverage. Integration was emphasized as a core element in strengthening demand generation and community mobilization for immunization. Furthermore, there were discussions on the need to incorporate behavioural science and a human centered gender-sensitive approach in overcoming vaccine hesitancy and stagnation in vaccination efforts.
Recommendations were adopted on coordination, zero dose population, funding, coverage, COVID-19 vaccination, outbreak response, and logistics. Additionally, IST West established an internal mechanism to track the progress made on those recommendations.
Authors: Hilaire DADJO (WHO/IST West), Oni EFFE-ALUTA (WHO/IST West Africa), Ado BWAKA (WHO/IST West Africa)