Ideal and reality: do countries adopt and follow recommended procedures in comprehensive multiyear planning guidelines for national immunization programmes?

Implement Sci. 2015 Apr 12:10:48. doi: 10.1186/s13012-015-0239-8.


Background: Meticulous steps and procedures are proposed in planning guidelines for the development of comprehensive multiyear plans for national immunization programmes. However, we know very little about whether the real-life experience of those who adopt these guidelines involves following these procedures as expected. Are these steps and procedures followed in practice? We examined the adoption and usage of the guidelines in planning national immunization programmes and assessed whether the recommendations in these guidelines are applied as consistently as intended.

Methods: We gathered information from the national comprehensive multiyear plans developed by 77 low-income countries. For each of the 11 components, we examined how each country applied the four recommended steps of situation analysis, problem prioritization, selection of interventions, and selection of indicators. We then conducted an analysis to determine the patterns of alignment of the comprehensive multiyear plans with those four recommended planning steps.

Results: Within the first 3 years following publication of the guidelines, 66 (86%) countries used the tool to develop their comprehensive multiyear plans. The funding conditions attached to the use of these guidelines appeared to influence their rapid adoption and usage. Overall, only 33 (43%) countries fully applied all four recommended planning steps of the guidelines.

Conclusions: Adoption and usage of the guidelines for the development of comprehensive multiyear plans for national immunization programmes were rapid. However, our findings show substantial variation between the proposed planning ideals set out in the guidelines and actual use in practice. A better understanding of factors that influence how recommendations in public health guidelines are applied in practice could contribute to improvements in guidelines design. It could also help adjust strategies used to introduce them into public health programmes, with the ultimate goal of a greater health impact.

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries
  • Health Planning Guidelines*
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs / methods
  • Immunization Programs / organization & administration
  • Immunization Programs / standards*
  • Nutrition Policy*