Background: Data on home-based records (HBRs) practices within national immunization programmes are non-existent, making it difficult to determine whether current efforts of immunization programmes related to basic recording of immunization services are appropriately focused.
Methods: During January 2014, WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund sent a one-page questionnaire to 195 countries to obtain information on HBRs including type of record used, number of records printed, whether records were provided free-of-charge or required by schools, whether there was a stock-out and the duration of any stock-outs that occurred, as well as the total expenditure for printing HBRs during 2013.
Results: A total of 140 countries returned a completed HBR questionnaire. Two countries were excluded from analysis because they did not use a HBR during 2013. HBR types varied across countries (vaccination only cards, 32/138 [23.1%]; vaccination plus growth monitoring records, 31/138 [22.4%]; child health books, 48/138 [34.7%]; combination of these, 27/138 [19.5%] countries). HBRs were provided free-of-charge in 124/138 (89.8%) respondent countries. HBRs were required for school entry in 62/138 (44.9%) countries. Nearly a quarter of countries reported HBR stock-outs during 2013. Computed printing cost per record was <US$0.50 in 53/77 (69%) of countries providing information.
Conclusions: These results provide a basis for national immunization programmes to develop, implement and monitor corrective activities to improve the availability and utilization of HBRs. Much work remains to improve forecasting where appropriate, to prevent HBR stock-outs, to identify and improve sustainable financing options and to explore viable market shaping opportunities.
Keywords: Health records; Immunization; Immunization systems; Medical records; Vaccination; Vaccination card.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.