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Using ICT to Improve Immunization Programs

By Liz Peloso, Global Director, BID Initiative

Nov 26, 2014

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I was fortunate to be invited to a WHO stakeholder consultation meeting earlier this month in Istanbul.  The meeting focused on sharing experiences using information and communication technology to improve immunization programs. In addition, we brainstormed possibilities for future use and introduction of innovation and finally, consulted on the roles that WHO should play to enable adoption of promising technologies, focusing on WHO’s normative function around data standards, as well as on its advisory function concerning use of data, and managing innovation for scalable and sustainable outcomes. Clearly from a BID Initiative perspective, we had a lot to learn and to contribute.

Part way through the three day meeting, one of the participants commented that if this meeting had been held two or three years ago, it would have been a small handful of people and could likely have taken place in the corner of a restaurant. Today, there were close to 100 people and many more in their home organizations and countries that were keenly interested.

Throughout the varied and interesting presentations and discussions, I was constantly struck by how well aligned we were in the BID Initiative activities to what others were both thinking about and trying to do.  All of the discussions reaffirmed for me that we were on the right track with the BID Initiative.

Of particular interest to me, was the experiences of some of the more developed countries (Norway, USA, Sweden, and Mexico to name a few). They had already started down the road of immunization registries and automating supply chain some years ago. The major messages I took away from listening to their experiences were:

1) The people and process components are more important than the technology and,

2) Once you get it working, the impact from clinician to program manager is significant — no one wanted to go back to paper.

I know the road ahead will be rocky and difficult, and we are sure to make a few wrong turns, however I am more convinced than ever that it is the right road to take and, especially if we travel it together, it will take us closer to where we need to be.

I want to thank the WHO meeting organizers for a job well done! We are happy to be on this journey together.

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