On September 8, 2010, Parliamentarians met with Senior Program Officer Diana Kizza to discuss Sustainable Immunization Financing. Attending, were: Hon Dr. Robert Monda (Chair Health Committee), MP; Hon Dr Eseli Simiyu, MP; Hon Dr. Bori Khalwale MP; Hon Dr. Nuh Nassir, MP; Hon Fred Orita, MP; Hon Joseph O. Magwanga, MP; Mr. Salad (Clerk Health Committee) Parliament of Kenya; Prof (Dr) Fred Were, Kenya Paediatric Association; and Dr David Githanga, from the Kenya Paediatric Association.

The purpose of the September 8 meeting was to meet directly with the health committee, to divert its focus to immunization efforts in the country. Secondly, the goal was to address making immunization programs a priority through a variety of approaches; mostly through sensitizing the public and advocating for increased budget allocations for the health sector and thus immunization. With new and underutilized vaccines rapidly being introduced onto the market, it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve full coverage: the rapidly growing cost of immunizing the population is threatened by the increasingly limited rate of committed financial sources.

Like other countries facing a similar dilemma, GAVI is unable to patch funding in order to support the introduction of new (and expensive) Pneumococcal Vaccine and Rotavirus vaccine. This alerting fact points to the urgent action needed by Kenyan leaders for planning to ensure that its population will be adequately protected against preventable, immunizable diseases.

Recently, a new Kenyan constitution was put into place. This offers a favorable window of opportunity for the development of a proposed law on immunization in Kenya; one that would bind the Government of Kenya at central and local levels which would protect funds for immunization and ensure immunization schedules. At this meeting, MPs suggested on drafting a bill which would help secure such actions, to begin immediately, by borrowing from the successes of the PAHO countries of South America, and employing the parliamentary department specialized in drafting legislation.

The Comprehensive Multi Year Plan (CMYp) was brought to the attention of the MPs, as they requested data which described the total amount going towards vaccines in Kenya; this review also addressing the obvious gaps. The planning and advocacy tool has recently been updated by the Ministry of Health for the 2010 – 2015 period. The recommendation of a policy brief, designed to address and illustrate funding challenges, as well as the total costs and gaps for procurement for new and underutilized vaccines be drawb. With new information on the availability of a CMYp, the parliamentarians (MPs) proposed a meeting with members of the Ministry of Health for elucidation on the Comprehensive Multi Year Plan, as well as a proposed immunization financing plan post 2015.

It was further proposed that the committee organize a core team which would include dedicated MPs which would demonstrate their commitment to immunization financing advocacy, thereby ensuring a high level advocacy campaign. The Health Committee was updated on the proposed March SIF colloquium where 12 African and 3 Asian countries will meet in Addis Ababa to share experiences on best practices on immunization financing.

The meeting was adjourned at 1220H with closing remarks from the Chair.