In the Democratic Republic of Congo’s southwestern city of Matadi, a review of the country’s Comprehensive Multi-Year Plan (cMYP) for immunization for 2011-2015 took place from August 20-25. The event gathered members of the national Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) Program team, representatives of the Ministries of Health, Planning, Budget and Finance and two members of Parliament, Hon. Gregoire Lusengue and Hon. Gregoire Kiro. WHO and UNICEF counterparts also attended, along with myself and Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Sustainable Immunization Financing (SIF) Senior Program Officer, Dr. Helene Mambu-Ma-Disu and Program Coordinator. As in other countries, the main objective of this annual exercise was to strategically plan EPI activities for the coming three years.

Participants were divided into 7 groups, each being assigned a topic within EPI. Topics included new vaccines, special immunization activities, surveillance, logistic, communication, program management and cMYP data collection and completion. Each group, with the exception of the cMYP data collection and completion group, was asked to follow an eight-step analytical methodology. This included a situation analysis based on 2012 SWOT results gathered from an external review, defining priorities and objectives that address the weaknesses and challenges identified and outlining a plan of activities that aligns with the policies outlined in the Global Immunization Vision and Strategies (GIVS). The groups developed calendars for the activities, assigned budgets and defined implementation mechanisms.
The cMYP Data Collection and Completion Group was asked to update the cMYP tool with new costing data and include budgets for the activities proposed by the other groups. This methodology was extremely successful. It encouraged communication by all national counterparts involved in EPI. By the end of the meeting, each group had well defined objectives, activities and budgets for the three projected years. The material produced by each group is currently being compiled into a single document to accompany the revised cMYP budget.
The cMYP review was followed by a two-day EPI revitalization meeting on August 26 and 27. Participants again broke into groups to further elaborate the activities outlined in the updated cMYP. Participants actively contributed to the discussions and made sure the identified weaknesses will be addressed at both national and sub-national levels. Dr. Paul Lame, Deputy EPI Manager (Directeur Adjoint du PEV), congratulated all participants for having independently created a technical document of high technical value without the assistance of WHO Regional staff or Inter-Country teams. Participants demonstrated their dedication and perseverance throughout the two meetings, he added.