Networking & Advocacy: Activities 2016

Teach to Reach Summit - moving from theory to action

Barcelona, Spain 29 November, 2016 to 1 December, 2016

The "Teach to Reach Summit - moving from theory to action" was organised by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from 29 November to 1 December 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.

The Teach to Reach Summit discussed the latest in learning science, strategies to improve immunisation training, measurement and support needed to ensure what is learned is applied on the job. Keynote presentations addressed the following topics: Instructural design; Measurement; and Training follow-up. The closing note focused on how to inspire learning.

The majority of the time was devoted to group work. The participants were divided in 7 groups addressing the key topics below. Each group had to work through 4 sessions: 1) concept and impact; 2) implementation and activities; 3) measurement; and 4) sustainability and resource requirements.

Post-training follow up: How can we reinforce content delivered in a training once learners return to the workplace? What mechanisms and structures already exist to provide post-training follow-up support, and what may need to be created?

  • Incentivizing learning: How can we change the context of training and incentives to better promote learning and demonstration of knowledge and skills? 

  • Creating structures to support change: How can we institutionalize structures within government and/or academic institutions to support new methodologies for training? 

  • Training in fragile states: What is an effective model for training at scale in fragile states that could overcome significant and complex logistical constraints? 

  • Incorporating up-to-date information in pre-service training: How can we begin to improve upon pre-service training by incorporating up-to-date information in an ongoing, systematic way? 

  • Delivering existing training in new ways: How can we deliver a standard mid-level manager training in an innovative way? 

  • Delivering new vaccine introduction training: How can we plan ahead to best leverage project funds for new vaccine introductions (such as HPV introduction) or campaigns to deliver better immunisation training? 


At the end of each day, groups reported back to the plenary and received constructive feedback from an expert panel and the other participants. The group work resulted in draft proposals that can be further elaborated on.

Specific NESI contributions:

  • Invited poster presentation on "Evaluation of the introduction of the EPI prototype curricula in pre-service health training institutions in the African Region," NESI/University of Antwerp, WHO/AFRO.

  • Team Lead for group work on "Incorporating up-to-date information in pre-service training"

EPI Managers Meeting for Eastern and Southern Africa Sub-region

Harare, Zimbabwe 26 September, 2016 to 28 September, 2016

The EPI managers meeting for Eastern and Southern African countries, was organised by WHO/AFRO in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 26 to 28 September 2016. The meeting was attended by 151 participants, including country representatives from: Botswana, Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Partner organisations attending the EPI managers meeting included: WHO, WHO/AFRO, UNICEF, American Red Cross, BMGF, CDC, Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Gavi, Gavi CSO constituency, JSI/MCSP, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, PATH, USAID, and NESI/UAntwerp.

The overall objective of the meeting was to provide a forum for technical orientation and exchange of experiences between countries in the Eastern and Southern African region and partners, to discuss current issues and challenges related to vaccine-preventable diseases and their solutions, and to update participants on global and regional policies and guidelines.

The meeting was organised around three sessions:

  • Session 1: Regional Immunization Strategic Plan 2014-2020: Routine Immunization and New Vaccines Introduction
    Objectives: To update EPI managers and partners on progress in the implementation of the Regional Immunization Strategic Plan; review progress and challenges in reaching the unreached target population with routine immunisation services and new vaccines; and discuss data quality as well as immunisation financing issues. 
  • Session 2: Accelerated Immunization Initiative
    Objectives: To update countries and partners on progress towards elimination of measles and maternal and neonatal tetanus; to update on Rubella vaccine introduction; to share country experiences with the implementation of strategies to eliminate/control the targeted vaccine-preventable diseases. A panel discussion addressed measles elimination and the threat of Yellow Fever in Eastern and Southern Africa
  • Session 3: Polio Eradication Initiative:
    Objectives: to review progress on switch and post switch, identify challenges (e.g. IPV supply), and facilitate implementation of the polio end game plan including polio transition planning. 


NESI also participated in the country side meetings for Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Namibia is planning for HPV vaccine introduction during 2017. NESI made a commitment to assist Namibia with the HPV vaccine training prior to the introduction.

Attending the EPI managers meeting was instrumental to NESI to engage all country teams to participate in the Symposium "Strengthening HPV vaccination and adolescent health programmes in Africa" in Johannesburg, South Africa.

10th Vaccine Congress

Amsterdam, The Netherlands 4 September, 2016 to 7 September, 2016

The 10th Vaccine Congress was organised by Elsevier from 4-7 September 2016 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The Vaccine Congress is complimentary to the journal Vaccine, a premier journal for scientists interested in vaccinology. The congress brought together leading experts from all over the world to share the latest discoveries in the field of vaccines and immunisation.

The congress was attended by over 250 participants from academia, research institutions, ministries of health, and industry. In addition to the plenary sessions, break-out and poster sessions, two workshops were organised on the following themes: “Publish or perish: How to become a successful author,” and “How to raise funding for your research.” There was also an opportunity to meet the editors of the journal Vaccine for a speed review of draft papers, proposals or ideas.

Specific contributions included:

  • Poster: suboptimal under one year-old vaccination coverage in South African children with diarrhoea attending a tertiary hospital in Gauteng Province in 2011-2014. Burnett RJ, Mmoledi G, Dochez Cm Seheri LM, Mphahlele MJ.

  • Presentation (presented by first author): First report on occult hepatitis B virus infection in South African healthcare workers. Sondlane TH, Mawela L, Razwiedani LL, Selabe SG, Lebelo RL, Rakgole JN, Mphahlele MJ, Dochez C, De Schryver A, Burnett RJ. 

Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) meetings

Geneva; Switzerland 12 April, 2016 to 14 April, 2016

The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) meetings were organised by WHO from 12 to 14 April 2016, and from 18 to 20 October 2016, 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 usually meets twice a year and reports directly to the Director-General of WHO.

The first session of the respective SAGE meetings covered the reports from WHO/IVB and Gavi, followed by reports from other advisory committees. Topics from the April 2016 meeting included Respiratory syncytial virus vaccines, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, implementation in the context of health system strengthening and universal health coverage, pre-empting and responding to vaccine shortages, missed opportunities for vaccination, the second year of life platform, and dengue vaccine. Topics discussed in October 2016 were Global Polio Eradication Initiative, measles and rubella elimination, maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination, GVAP progress report, hepatitis B vaccination, HPV vaccines, and yellow fever. 

SAGE is an excellent opportunity for NESI to network but also for understanding the rationale supporting WHO's recommendations on vaccines and immunisation. These evidence-based arguments can immediately be included in NESI's education and training activities enriching discussions with the most up-to-date information, especially relevant for vaccinology courses and immunisation management courses.

Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 24 February, 2016 to 25 February, 2016

The Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa was organised by WHO/AFRO, WHO/EMRO, Government of Ethiopia and the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 24-25 February 2016.

The conference bringing together African leaders, including health and finance ministers, was also attended by advocates, technical experts, policymakers, academia, civil society organisations, donors and journalists to examine how best to drive forward immunization across Africa.

Conference sessions, in the format of round-table discussions, included: sustainable financing; the role of communities in coverage and demand; building stronger systems to improve child health; and leveraging regional partnerships to ensure high and equitable vaccination coverage.

A full report from the conference can be read at the conference website.

Last updated: 14 July, 2017