Networking & Advocacy: Activities 2014

8th African Rotavirus Symposium

Livingstone, Zambia 12 June, 2014 to 13 June, 2014

The 8th African Rotavirus Symposium was organised from 12 to 13 June 2014 in Livingstone, Zambia, by the African Rotavirus Network (ARN) – a network of global rotavirus researchers, African Ministries of Health, WHO and other key partners and stakeholders. The Symposium was hosted by the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ), in collaboration with the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health of Zambia. The theme of the Symposium was 'Rotavirus Landscape in Africa – Towards Prevention and Control'.

The scientific committee members of the Symposium are key leaders in the rotavirus field including Dr Roger Glass (Associate Director of International Research, U.S. National Institutes of Health); Dr Duncan Steel (Senior Programme Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates foundation); Dr Umesh Parashar (Lead Division of Enteric Viruses, CDC); Prof Jeffrey Mphahlele (Professor of Virology, University of Limpopo, South Africa); Dr Jason Mwenda (WHO/AFRO Regional Coordinator for Vaccine Disease Surveillance); Dr George Armah (Head West African Regional Rotavirus Reference Laboratory, Ghana) and Dr Roma Chilengi (Director of Primary Care and Health Systems Strengthening, CIDRZ).

The Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, Emerine Kabanshi, gave the official opening speech. Zambia recently introduced three lifesaving vaccines into their National Immunisation Programme: pneumococcal, measles second dose, and rotavirus vaccine. The Minister announced that necessary commitments were made to ensure that no Zambian child dies from vaccine preventable diseases.

The Symposium was attended by 134 delegates from 34 countries; of which 27 were African. Scientists, academics, government officials and representatives from pharmaceutical companies discussed the achievements and challenges in the field of preventing childhood diarrhoea caused by rotavirus in Africa. During the two-day event, over 35 scientific presentations, as well as posters, were discussed. NESI was invited to present on "Capacity building activities in support of new vaccine introduction."

Symposium "Vaccine Confidence: Managing Risk, Building Trust"

London, United Kingdom 25 April, 2014

The symposium was co-organised by NESI and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and took place on 25 April at the Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury hotel in London.

The symposium marked World Immunisation Week (24-30 April 2014) by bringing together experts from around the world to examine the local and global opportunities and risks which vaccines and vaccination programmes face, and featured the importance of building trust. Experts in risk and decision sciences, public health, health diplomacy, vaccines and immunisation, anthropology, history, e-health, policy and communications presented and discussed new ways of engaging publics to benefit from the constantly evolving portfolio of vaccine choices.

A full report of the Symposium is available below.

Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) meeting

Geneva, Switzerland 1 April, 2014 to 3 April, 2014

The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) meeting was organised by WHO from 1 to 3 April 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland. SAGE advises WHO on overall global policies and strategies, ranging from vaccine research and development, to delivery of immunisation services and linking immunisation with other health interventions. SAGE meets twice a year and reports directly to the Director-General of WHO. The first session of SAGE usually covers the reports from WHO/IVB and Gavi. This is followed by regional reports and other related topics.  

Topics during the April 2014 meeting were:
  • Immunization supply chains: strategies for the future of in-country systems strengthening
  • Global polio eradication initiative
  • Varicella and herpes zoster vaccines
  • Alternative vaccination schedules for HPV vaccines
  • Pertussis vaccines
  • Non-specific effects of vaccines on mortality in children under 5 years of age
  • Integration of immunization and child health services

SAGE is for NESI an excellent opportunity for networking but also for understanding the rationale underpinning most of WHO's recommendations on vaccines and immunisation. These evidence-based arguments subsequently can be rapidly included in NESI's training/teaching activities enriching discussions with the most recent information, especially relevant for vaccinology courses and immunisation management courses. 

EPI Managers Meeting for the Eastern and Southern Africa sub-Region

Harare, Zimbabwe 10 March, 2014 to 14 March, 2014

The annual EPI Managers Meeting for Eastern and Southern Africa was organised by WHO/Inter-country Support Team from Eastern and Southern Africa from 10 to 14 March 2014, in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The meeting was attended by more than 150 participants, including EPI managers and academics and WHO and UNICEF EPI focal points from 20 countries from Eastern and Southern Africa, as well as members of the Task Force on Immunisation and other immunisation partners: AMP, American Red Cross, BMGF, CHAI, CIDRZ, Gavi, MCHIP, NESI/UAntwerp and Sabin.

The overall objectives of the meeting was to provide a forum for technical orientation and exchange of experiences between countries in Eastern and Southern Africa and partners; to discuss current issues and challenges related to vaccine preventable diseases and their solutions; and to update participants on the global and regional policies and guidelines with special focus on acceleration of the polio eradication initiative.

The meeting aimed to update participants on the GVAP and the Regional IVE Strategic Plan and review progress and challenges in reaching the unreached target population with routine immunisation services and new vaccines; to discuss the financing of vaccination; to agree on ways to ensure complete interruption of WPV1 transmission in the Horn of Africa countries and maintain ESA countries polio free; and to review progress and challenges regarding the elimination of measles, MNT and Meningitis A epidemics, as well as the introduction of rubella vaccine and yellow fever control.

A special workshop was devoted to the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018.

Attending the EPI Managers meeting was an excellent opportunity for NESI to discuss and plan joint activities with EPI staff and other immunisation partners.

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Last updated: 14 July, 2017