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Taking the BID Initiative to the TechNet conference

By Paul Nindi, System Project Manager, BID Initiative Zambia

Oct 18, 2017

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Photo: PATH/Chimwasu Njapawu. Health workers visit with a patient and review immunization schedules at a facility in Zambia.

This week, the BID Initiative is headed to Cascais, Portugal for the 15th TechNet conference. We’re looking forward to showcasing the progress and lessons of the BID Initiative from the last four years.

The TechNet Conference is led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF’s Immunization Supply Chain Hub and is co-organized by a multi-partner planning committee. It brings together immunization professionals/managers, public health agents, development partners, experts, cold chain/vaccine manufacturers, and stakeholders from all around the world to discuss the latest developments in immunization practices and policy. TechNet is a platform for sharing field experiences and identifying areas for further exploration.

This year’s conference is focused on building the next generation of immunization supply chains and one of the exciting interactive platforms it offers is the opportunity to exchange innovative technologies and approaches to ensure vaccine supply chain logistic systems reach the last mile.  One out of every five children around the world is not reached with vital lifesaving vaccines. How can the fifth child be reached? It’s a big question, and one that this year’s TechNet participants will try to answer. The BID Initiative is founded in the belief that better data, plus better decisions, will lead to better health outcomes. With our focus on immunization data, we believe that this last mile can be reached with more accurate, timely, and accessible data.

Another area of interest will be the exchanges of field and country experiences related to immunization supply chain and logistics strengthening. Having the chance to interact and share experiences with other countries will be very beneficial to Tanzania and Zambia, the BID Initiative’s two demonstration countries. It was gratifying, for instance, to learn that the Ministry of Health adopted Zambia’s Logistimo system after first hearing about it at a previous TechNet conference. Logistimo was designed to provide cold chain information to health workers at a provincial and district level.

BID also hopes to enrich the conference with our experiences. In this vein, I’ll join two representatives from the Ministry of Health to showcase the Zambia Electronic Immunization Registry (ZEIR) during TechNet’s Innovations Café. The side event allows innovators and stakeholders to share open-access, non-proprietary technologies through informal conversations and demos. We will also have a quick 5-minute demo during TechNet’s Pitch Fest. Audience members will vote electronically to score the pitches. The highest pitchers will get a slot to do a full demo.

Our country representation will also attend panel discussions on:

  • Bridging the paper-digital divide: Holistically addressing data quality and use challenges at all levels of a health system: This will be an exploration session on the building blocks of data visibility, products, and people and how they must collectively be addressed to improve vaccine availability and immunization service provision. Four countries will highlight their experiences with these building blocks, their challenges and successes. Samuel Mutasha, District Health Information Officer for Kazungula District in Zambia, for instance, will discuss how ZEIR has promoted a culture of data use alongside other interventions, such as job aides, peer networks, and more.
  • Putting together the puzzle pieces of immunization data systems: Who can help, what pieces to start with, and how? Global Director Laurie Werner will also participate in a panel discussion about how to address the short- and long-term needs of immunization data systems as countries increasingly encounter more solutions for data collection and data use.

Having been part of the development of ZEIR, an app combining automated vaccine scheduling, reminders, decision support, and stock monitoring, I’m most excited to learn more about the cold chain system, or how a vaccine vial moves from the point of manufacture to the point when the dose is administered to a child. This year’s conference is also an opportunity to learn about the various technologies available to track the journey of a vaccine dose right to the point of administration.

I bring an open mind and a keen curiosity to this year’s TechNet conference. For more updates from this year’s event, follow us on Twitter and Facebook and by using the official conference hashtag – #TechNetConference.

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