By Liz Peloso, BID Initiative Global Director, PATH

I had the great honour to speak at the Inaugural Conference for the International Association of Immunization Managers (IAIM) last week. As the Global Director for PATH’s Better Immunization Data (BID) Initiative, I presented our best practices in implementing information systems for immunization programs. The event was well attended, and I had the opportunity to meet and interact with many immunization managers and others working in immunizations from around the world. There was definitely an air of excitement, comradery and optimism that comes with dedicated professionals coming together to build something new.

The Value of Peer Networks

As I listened to the various immunization managers talk with each other about their programs’ successes and challenges, I was struck by how valuable this opportunity is to establish these relationships and the vast knowledge shared with peers. Reflecting on my own career, I realized how influential these peer networks have been for me.  While there may not always be time to dive into the details, you learn a lot about where to look for help, what to be on the lookout for, and it is very rewarding to get that positive affirmation when you are on the right track.

I was also struck by how similar the challenges are between countries. While country resources differ and they have other contextual differences, the service delivery challenges are very similar. This is very reassuring news for us at the BID Initiative. We recognize that immunization service delivery is similar across sub-Saharan Africa and we have convened a similar learning network with African participants, the BID Learning Network (BLN). If challenges are similar across multiple countries, then it would serve to reason that there could also be similarities in the solutions. In fact, we are implementing a similar immunization registry based on the Albania experience in Tanzania, one of our demonstration countries.

Presenting on Information Systems for EPI

In my presentation, I provided practical advice on how to identify and select appropriate technology solutions to improve managers’ ability to deliver immunization services. While it is difficult to cover such a broad topic in a short presentation, particularly to such a varied audience, I covered the basics and then directed attendees to useful resources that would provide additional in-depth information.

As we move forward it is my sincere hope that both BID and IAIM will continue to find ways where we can help support country EPI managers address their common challenges.

About the BID Initiative

The BID Initiative focuses on interventions to improve data quality, collection and use to enhance immunization and overall health service delivery. Our main focus areas for the interventions are centered on the development of an electronic immunization registry, supply chain system tools and creating a data use culture.  Learn more at www.bidinitiative.org