National and subnational participants from Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Syria gathered at the Dead Sea, Jordan from 25 to 27 September to participate in a MENA Regional Workshop on Equity-Informed Microplanning. The workshop was organized by UNICEF MENARO in close technical collaboration with GAVI, US CDC, JSI, WHO and EMPHNET. The objective of the workshop was to improve the capacity of national and sub-national level EPI and data managers to analyze immunization data with an equity lens, learn about existing methodologies, tools and Information and Communication Technology applications and exchange ideas and best practices on how to account for special populations such as transient, conflict affected, and urban slums, the non-public sector, immunization during the second year of life, missed opportunities and equity-informed microplanning and resource allocation.
In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, countries have been faced with enormous threats and challenges due to the proliferation of political conflicts which have led to massive internally displaced people and refugees. Additionally economic austerities and environmental degradations in recent decades have contributed to extensive population movements, such as migration and urbanization. Moreover, health financing has been impacted due to competing priorities and commitments and an increasingly disturbing trend in out of pocket expenditures is observed.
In the meantime, as immunization programs have matured, they have set impressively ambitious goals, for instance to reach the populations that are the hardest to reach and improve coverage across geographic, socio-economic and demographic groups. Yet, current data systems in many countries are not designed with the goals of universal health coverage and equity in mind and often focus on populations already reached by programs.
Consequently, there is often a lack of information about those who are never vaccinated, those who do not complete their vaccinations and those who opt out. Moreover, in many countries microplans are updated or developed without particular focus on equity and where the private and civil society sectors have a major role in providing services, there is a lack of coordination and communication, and the data do not often get reported, recorded and incorporated as part of the country’s planning process. Finally existing plans and tools for registering, recording and reporting coverage do not always take into account immunization during the second year of life and the missed opportunities.