Helping Counties Improve Immunization Systems through Mentorship
In 1999, CDC in collaboration with WHO launched the Stop Transmission of Polio — STOP program — to train and mobilize teams to provide technical assistance to polio-endemic countries. Since then the STOP Program has deployed more than 2,000 experts to more than 75 countries. STOP participants work with local ministries of health, WHO, and UNICEF to support the global polio eradication efforts by improving vaccine preventable disease surveillance, routine immunizations, outbreak response, communications, social mobilization, and data management in at-risk countries. By 2016, the annual incidence of polio had decreased by >99.9% and the STOP program expanded its services to address measles and rubella elimination, data management and quality, and strengthening routine immunization programs.
High quality data are needed for evidence-based decision making to improve routine immunization practices and service delivery. Based on the successes of the STOP program, Kenya became one of the first three international sites to pilot a new program, STOP Immunization and Surveillance Data Specialists (ISDS), which allows participants to work collaboratively with public health officials at the local level to identify specific data related challenges and create sustainable solutions. The primary focus of the STOP ISDS strategy is to improve knowledge, skills, and practices through the routine management and use of disease surveillance data. The STOP ISDS provided technical support to improve data quality in 25 sub-counties and 160 health facilities in five targeted counties.
A second program, the Strengthening Technical Assistance for Routine Immunization Training project — better known as START — was launched in Kenya to improve the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) planning, monitoring, and service delivery through building capacity of sub-national EPI staff. START focuses on mentoring EPI staff from the health facilities up to county health officials using strategies of on-the-job training.
Together, these two programs have reached 200 health facilities located throughout 19 of Kenya’s 47 counties. Both programs note an increase in staff morale as well as improved performance through routine feedback on immunization, disease surveillance data as well as weekly reporting