Immunization key says Lanka

The government says it is exploring an alternative financing mechanism for immunization at the provincial level and it will not stop until it has a sustainable financing mechanism in place for national routine immunization services.
The government said this while commenting on Sri Lanka’s participation at the global conference on country-led efforts to fund immunization programs held in Dakar today.
“Sri Lanka has a separate budget line for immunization in our health budget allocated by the treasury. This has ensured the vaccine financing in Sri Lanka”, said Dr. Paba Palihawadana, Chief of Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health. “We are also exploring an alternative financing mechanism for immunization at the provincial level. We will not stop until we have a sustainable financing mechanism in place for our routine immunization services and protected by legal framework.”
The Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Sustainable Immunization Financing (SIF) Program today assembled senior officials from 17 countries to share their successes in increasing government budget allocations for national immunization programs. Greater political commitment and advocacy are building the momentum needed for countries to fully finance their immunization programs by 2020 and achieve the goals set forth in the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP).
During the two-day colloquium, delegates will participate in an open exchange of strategies and best practices that have helped their countries increase commitments to fund national immunization programs. In panel sessions, delegates will present their legislative activities, conduct peer assessments and discuss innovations in financing, budgeting and advocacy. They will also prepare short-term, country specific advocacy plans designed to make progress on sustainable immunization financing by 2016.
The necessity of comprehensive, uninterrupted national immunization programs is recognized by Millennium Development Goal Four (reduction of child mortality) and the GVAP, a framework for extending the full benefits of immunization to every man, woman and child by 2020. However, rising costs due to the addition of new life-saving vaccines and unguaranteed external funding pose serious challenges for national immunization programs.
“We cannot overlook the power of vaccines. Immunization is one of the most effective and affordable investments that a country can make in its citizens,” said Dr. Ciro de Quadros, executive vice president at the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “As nations increase investment in vaccination programs, they are taking essential measures to save lives while also stimulating productivity and accelerating economic growth.”
The SIF program currently works with 18 countries to facilitate collective action on immunization financing and has helped organize more than 100 advocacy briefings and peer exchanges to assist those countries. By encouraging the exchange of financial, programmatic and legislative information; establishing relationships with diverse stakeholders; documenting and sharing best management practices; and monitoring performance, the SIF program has helped countries solidify their financial commitments to their immunization programs.
“Many countries are hindered by the rising costs associated with the introduction of new vaccines,” added Dr. Mike McQuestion, director of the SIF Program at the Sabin Vaccine Institute. “We therefore must prioritize finding sustainable sources of funding for national vaccination programs if we are to meet the goals of the Global Vaccine Action Plan.”
The 17 countries participating in the colloquium are all SIF pilot countries.  They are Cameroon, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Vietnam. All but three countries – Mongolia, Republic of Congo and Vietnam – attended SIF’s first colloquium in 2011 held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The following SIF partners also are attending this year’s meeting:  WHO, UNICEF, World Bank, GAVI Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.