Immunisation program reviews in East and Southern Africa (2012-2018): key lessons

Pan Afr Med J. 2021 Feb 22:38:194. doi: 10.11604/pamj.2021.38.194.27124. eCollection 2021.


Introduction: the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that countries conduct comprehensive national immunisation program reviews regularly to help them identify systems wide-barriers or gaps and monitor performance against the set targets.

Methods: we reviewed reports from the latest national immunisation program reviews conducted in the 20 countries in the sub-region in the course of 2012-2018. We generated descriptive analysis of the findings across the sub-region.

Results: the 20 program reviews included field observations to the subnational levels as well as interviews with program staff and stakeholders. At the time of the reviews, only 11 countries had functional National Immunisation Technical Advisory Groups. Operational funding was inadequate in half of the countries. The reviews documented the cancellation of outreach services, supportive supervision visits and maintenance of cold chain equipment due to the lack of fuel or operational funding. Immunisation programs in 10 countries had major human resource gaps. Vaccine stock management tools were not effectively used in 10 countries, and stock out of vaccines and supplies was documented in 9 countries during the review. The full components of the RED strategy were implemented in only 3 of the 20 countries. Twelve countries reported challenges with the availability and accuracy of target populations. Four countries had documented the presence of vaccine hesitant groups at the time of the reviews.

Conclusion: the reviews demonstrated challenges in various aspects of the programs in different countries. The implementation of the review recommendations should be built into the annual program plans, as well as into coasted multi-year plans, in order to address the gaps and helps the program to attain the set targets. With the rapid evolution of the scope and complexity of the immunisation programs in recent years, countries should invest their efforts in building the capacity of their human resources as well as updating their logistics and data systems.

Keywords: Africa; EPI review; data quality; hesitancy; immunization; program review; vaccine preventable diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Eastern
  • Africa, Southern
  • Capacity Building
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs / organization & administration*
  • Immunization Programs / statistics & numerical data
  • Refrigeration
  • Vaccination Refusal / statistics & numerical data
  • Vaccines / supply & distribution*
  • Workforce / statistics & numerical data*


  • Vaccines