While much progress has been made globally in reaching the public with immunizations, one in five children across the world still do not have access to routine immunizations. Immunization managers, the public health officials who oversee countries’ vaccination systems, are integral to closing this gap – but in order for them to do so, it is critical that they are trained in management. Most immunization managers are trained as doctors or nurses, but most have never received management training – and it is their level of management skill that will make the difference in whether they are able to advance vaccination coverage in their countries.

To address this need, immunization managers and public health officials from Asia and the Pacific are gathering in Beijing, China, to exchange successful practices and information on managing immunization systems. This meeting, the first of its kind in the region, will take place September 22-23, 2016, organized by the International Association of Immunization Managers (IAIM). IAIM, a professional association for immunization managers, provides this critical cadre of public health professionals with managerial training, an independent forum to discuss the management of immunization systems, and opportunities to connect with their peers around the world to exchange experiences and successful practices. IAIM is housed at the Sabin Vaccine Institute and was launched in 2013 with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This week’s meeting is also co-hosted by the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association.

During this historic meeting, which will bring more than 175 attendees from 21 countries, participants will discuss and exchange best practices in their shared efforts to implement immunization programs across Asia and the Pacific. Topics of discussion include how to overcome common management challenges in immunization systems, focusing especially on the elimination of measles across the South and Southeast Asian (SEARO) region and the Western Asia and Pacific (WPRO) region. The expansion of measles vaccination efforts between 2000 and 2014 resulted in a 79 percent decline in measles deaths worldwide, and the measles vaccine remains a safe and cost-effective method to prevent countless more deaths from the highly contagious disease. While the SEARO and WPRO regions are on their way to eliminating measles, there is much work left to do, and many management challenges left to be addressed, in order for this goal to be achieved.

Immunization managers and public health officials gathering in Beijing will learn from global experts about how to raise immunization coverage in their respective countries, many of which contain hard-to-reach populations. Sessions will focus on overcoming region-specific challenges to measles elimination and how to use information systems to strengthen the management of immunization systems, among other subjects.

You can learn more about the meeting agenda here. A report summarizing the key points discussed and major conclusions reached from the meeting will be published following the meeting. 

Photos from the meeting can be found here