Networking & Advocacy: Activities 2017

13th Intercountry Meeting of national EPI managers and 17th Intercountry Meeting on Measles/Rubella Control and Elimination

Muscat, Oman 10 December, 2017 to 13 December, 2017

The 30th intercountry meeting of national managers of the EPI programme and 17th intercountry meeting on measles/rubella control and elimination was organised by WHO/EMRO in collaboration with the Government of Oman from 10 to 13 December 2017 in Muscat, Oman.

The meeting was attended by more than 100 delegates, including MoH representatives and NITAG members from the following countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE; by the members of the Regional Technical Advisory Group and other organisations including: BMGF, CDC, Gavi, EMPHNET, International Federation of Red Cross, JSI Research & Training Institute Inc., NESI/University of Antwerp, UNICEF and WHO.

The purpose of the meeting was to:

  • Review countries' progress towards achieving the regional immunisation targets, including routine immunisation, measles elimination and hepatitis B control targets;
  • Brief the participants on the latest updates for improving immunisation programmes;
  • Review countries' progress in implementation of the national plans and discuss and update key planned activities and need for technical assistance for strengthening routine immunisation, measles/rubella elimination and hepatitis B control programme.

Countries also conducted group work on: (1) strengthening routine immunisation; and (2) reviewing country situation of measles/rubella control and updating planned activities in relation to population immunity. NESI joined the group of Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia.

As the activities of NESI are currently expanding in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, attending these meetings were an excellent opportunity to meet partners and plan future activities in the Region.

Regional Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (RITAG) Meeting and Immunisation Stakeholders Meeting

Johannesburg, South Africa 5 December, 2017 to 7 December, 2017

The Regional Immunisation Technical Advisory Group meeting was organised by WHO/AFRO in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 5 to 7 December 2017. RITAG serves as the principal advisory body to WHO/AFRO for strategic guidance on vaccines and immunisation.

The RITAG meeting was attended by over 100 participants, including: RITAG members, 2 SAGE members, NITAG chairs from 5 countries, EPI managers from 10 countries and partner organisations.

The RITAG meeting addressed the following sessions: (1) Maternal and neonatal tetanus elimination; (2) Polio eradication and end-game strategy; (3) Africa Regional Strategic Plan for Immunisation (RSPI) 2014-2020; (4) Cholera control; and (5) WHO strategic framework for immunisation research. During the session discussing the annual progress towards the implementation of the Africa Regional Strategic Plan for Immunisation, the report of the independent mid-term review of the RSPI was presented.

Following the RITAG meeting, the African Regional Immunisation Stakeholders' Meeting (previously known as ARICC) was organised on 8 December 2017. The African Regional Immunisation Stakeholders' meeting serves as the main regional body to improve regional coordination and mobilize the needed resources among stakeholders in support of the RSPI, commitments towards the Addis Declaration on Immunisation, as well as to contribute to attain the Sustainable Development Goal 3. The terms of reference of this coordination body of key immunisation stakeholders in the WHO African Region were discussed and endorsed.

Other sessions reported on the WHO business case for immunisation in the African continent; ADI implementation and Gavi strategy 2016-2020 implementation.

Inauguration of the Institut de Recherche en Santé, de Surveillance Épidémiologique et de Formation (IRESSEF) and Scientific Symposium

Dakar, Senegal 19 June, 2017 to 20 June, 2017

The Inauguration of the Institut de Recherche en Santé, de Surveillance Épidémiologique et de Formation (IRESSEF) [Institute for Health Research, Epidemiological Surveillance and Training] was held from 19 to 20 June 2017 in Dakar, Senegal. IRESSEF has the ambition to become a leading hub for health research, epidemiology and training in Senegal and the wider African Region.

The inauguration was presided over by the President of Senegal, His Excellency Mr Macky Sall. The inauguration was part of an international scientific symposium was held, “Building partnerships to advance surveillance and response to disease threats, laboratory quality management systems and access to quality diagnostics, and public health in Africa.”

For further information about IRESSEF, please visit their website:  

Regional Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (RITAG) Meeting

Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo 6 June, 2017 to 7 June, 2017

The Regional Immunisation Technical Advisory Group (RITAG) Meeting was held from 6-7 June 2017 in Brazzaville, Congo. RITAG serves as the principal advisory group to the WHO Regional Office for Africa for strategic guidance on vaccines and immunisation. RITAG reports directly to the WHO Regional Director for Africa and advises the Regional Director on overall regional policies and strategies, ranging from vaccine and technology research and development, to delivery of immunisation services and linkages between immunisation and other health interventions. 

All members are acknowledged experts with an outstanding record of achievement in their own field and an understanding of the immunisation issues covered by the RITAG.  They have a responsibility to provide WHO with high quality, well-considered advice and recommendations on immunisation matters.

Over 100 participants attended the meeting, including 11 RITAG members from across Africa, 2 members of the WHO Strategic Advisory Group on Immunization (SAGE), 12 national EPI managers representing 12 countries in all three regions (Central Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa, and Western Africa), WHO staff from WHO/HQ, WHO/AFRO, WHO/EMRO, WHO/IST/Central, WHO/IST/ESA, WHOIST/West, and 10 WHO country offices, as well as partners from the following organisations: APHRC, American Red Cross, CDC, Deloitte, Ethiopian Pediatric Society, Gavi, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, NESI/UAntwerp, Results UK, Rotary International, UN Foundation, UNICEF, USAID, and Village Reach.

Major topics in the meeting agenda included: Immunization Coverage, HPV Vaccine Introduction in the WHO African Region, Polio Eradication & End-Game Strategy, Building Resilient VPD Surveillance in the African Region, RTS,S Malaria Vaccine, and Drafting RITAG Recommendations. A Gavi side meeting was also held to update participants on revisions to Gavi's measles/rubella, HPV support and vaccine management requirements.

The Africa Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Committee (ARICC) also met during this gathering to review and adopt a number of recommendations for immunisation programme efforts in the region. Additionally, there was an Immunisation Partner meeting in which stakeholders from the various partner agencies expressed their support for WHO/AFRO’s activities and recommendations. 

Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) Meetings

Geneva, Switzerland 25 April, 2017 to 27 April, 2017

The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) meetings were organised by WHO from 25 to 27 April 2017, and from 17 to 19 October 2017, 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 2017 meeting included the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, cholera, Ebola vaccines, and diphtheria. Topics discussed in October 2017 were Global Polio Eradication Initiative, typhoid vaccines, pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV), rabies vaccines, Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, and a GVAP progress report.

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.

Annual EPI Managers Meeting for Eastern and Southern Africa

Kampala, Uganda 20 March, 2017 to 22 March, 2017

The annual EPI Managers Meeting for Eastern and Southern Africa was organised by WHO/Inter-country Support Team from Eastern and Southern Africa from 20 to 22 March 2017, in Kampala, Uganda.

The meeting was attended by 186 participants, including EPI managers, academics, WHO and UNICEF EPI focal points from 20 countries from Eastern and Southern Africa, as well as immunisation partners including: African Population and Health Research Center, Inc. (APHRC), American Red Cross, BMGF, Bull City Learning, CDC, CHAI, MCSP/JSI, East African Community (EAC), Gavi, NESI/UAntwerp, USAID, and Village Reach.

The overall objectives of the meeting were to update Program Managers and partners on progress in the implementation of the Regional Immunization Strategic Plan, 2014 – 2020 in East and Southern Africa; and to inform and share the RITAG Recommendations and the adoption of the Addis Declaration on Immunization (ADI) and the implementation of the ADI road map.

The meeting’s four sessions were:

  • Session 1: Regional Immunization Strategic Plan 2014-2020 and the Ministerial Declaration on Immunization Roadmap
  • Session 2: Routine Immunization, New Vaccine Introduction and Accelerated Immunization Initiative
  • Session 3: Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI)
  • Session 4 : Meeting recommendations and closing ceremony

By the end of the meeting, participants were updated on progress in the implementation of the Regional Immunization Strategic Plan, RITAG recommendations and Adoption of ADI and implementation roadmap shared. 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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31st International Papillomavirus Conference

Cape Town, South Africa 28 February, 2017 to 4 March, 2017

The 31st International Papillomavirus Conference was organised in Cape Town, South Africa, from 28 February to 4 March 2017, by the International Papillomavirus Society.

The conference brought together more than 1200 researchers, clinicians, policy-makers and other healthcare professionals aiming at exchanging the latest advances from basic science to global health impact. Conference themes included: epidemiology and molecular biology of papillomaviruses; animal models for the study of papillomavirus disease; impact of the microbiome on HPV; basic immunology and pathogenesis of papillomaviruses; therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines; prevention of cervical cancer and other diseases associated with papillomaviruses; and advocacy and communication of scientific knowledge to benefit the whole community.

SAVIC/SMU, South African Medical Research Council (SA-MRC) and NESI/University of Antwerp presented a poster in the session on Public Health. The poster was awarded the second place for best poster in the category of Public Health.

Poster presentation
Dochez C, Burnett RJ, Mphahlele MJ. Improving skills and institutional capacity to strengthen adolescent immunisation programmes and health systems in African countries through HPV vaccine introduction.


Last updated: 7 February, 2020