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Uganda’s immunization program officials and civil society representatives share experiences, learn about Tanzania’s electronic immunization system

By Brian Atuhaire, Immunization and Advocacy Manager

Dec 26, 2018

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Photo: PATH/Trevor Snapp. Digitalizing immunization records helps health workers make more informed decisions about where there are gaps in immunization coverage.

This is the second blog in a series from a data learning trip to Tanzania for stakeholders from Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to learn about the Tanzania Immunization Registry (TImR).

Uganda, like many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa faces a number of health-related challenges. At the same time, the country has dramatically improved health outcomes through several initiatives, particularly for maternal and child health. As a signatory to the Addis Declaration on Immunization, Uganda has taken measures to improve immunization outcomes, including establishing an immunization law, increasing domestic financing, and embracing innovations, such as electronic immunization systems.

In September, PATH staff from Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) traveled to Tanzania to learn about how the country is addressing immunization challenges through a series of data quality and use interventions.  Facilitated by PATH, the learning trip was hosted by the Government of Tanzania, Ministry of Health staff, and PATH’s BID Initiative.

Seeing TImR in action was particularly helpful in identifying how an electronic immunization registry could address challenges in Uganda’s immunization program. A common concern about adopting electronic systems in Uganda is health worker capacity and data control, so it was enriching to learn how the Government of Tanzania and BID deployed the system. BID’s approach included phased training to ensure user confidence, which we saw exhibited during the visit.

With Uganda currently implementing an eHealth Policy and eHealth Strategy, the team, through PATH’s ten-part advocacy plan has developed an advocacy strategy to explore opportunities in the digital health space to address gaps in the immunization program, in line with the Addis Declaration on Immunization.

Photo: PATH/Emma Stewart. The Ugandan delegation with Daines Mgidange of the BID Initiative, discussing a way forward following their field tour.

“This visit has been such an eye-opener for the kind of opportunities that Uganda could explore to improve the quality and reliability of our immunization data,” said Frehd Nghania, the Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for Uganda’s Immunization Program.

This learning trip demonstrates the potential of South-South collaboration to promote innovation that is applicable and relevant to developing countries. It was encouraging to see TImR rolled out in contexts very similar to Uganda’s health system, community settings, and governance structures.

The Ugandan delegation will now commence country discussions through the eHealth technical working group, immunization technical forums and other platforms to explore related avenues to improve immunization data systems in Uganda, and will continue to count on the Government of Tanzania, the Ministry of Health, and the BID team for technical support along this journey.

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