The Third Parliamentary Symposium on Sustainable Immunization Financing(SIF) begins today in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, lasting from October 21-22, 2010. Sponsored by the Sabin Vaccine Institute and hosted by the Government and Parliament of Cambodia, government representatives from Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Nepal, as well as representatives from the WHO, UNDP, UNICEF, and World Bank will be joining Director Mike McQuestion and Senior Program Officer Devendra Gnawali today to discuss these countries' statuses in reaching sustainable immunization financing. Government representatives from each pilot country will summarize their achievements to date in reaching this initiative. Topics to be broached, will be: best practices in budgeting and legislation; best practices in advocacy; problem areas; goals; as well as varied and practiced approaches to sustainable immunization financing.

In both February and July of 2010, SIF Sabin sponsored two briefings in Asia. In February 2010, the First Asian Sub-regional parliamentary colloquium in Kathmandu, Nepal, produced the Kathmandu Declaration, which called for bigger national immunization budgets in SIF Sabin’s three Asian focus countries: Nepal, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka. In July 2010, a similar colloquium was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka; the output of this convening of nations was the Kathmandu to Colombo and Beyond Declaration, which called upon governments to find innovative ways in which to increase routine immunization budgets, also calling upon nations EPI managers to begin monitoring with fiscal findings and follow up reporting.

Today's Third Parliamentary Symposium on Sustainable Immunization Financing will follow up on these prior achievements and explore viable initiatives in achieving sustainable immunization financing. A series of presentations will inform the next two days planned side meetings and scheduled workshops. These activities will offer Parliamentarians, as well as members from Ministries of Health and Finance from all three countries an opportunity to discuss varied proposed strategies, all of which will be analyzed in a peer review. Anticipated outputs will be work plans and refined approaches to progress monitoring. Collectively, participants will agree on a list of follow-up action items and activities which will help each focus country move closer to sustainable immunization financing.

All three SIF Asian pilot countries recognize that immunization is an effective and powerful public health tool; governments from Cambodia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka are working to reach Millennium Development's Goal 4, Reducing Child Mortality, by 2015. The introduction and incorporation of new vaccines have greatly added to the cost of current immunization program needs; all three countries recognize that external donors such as GAVI, WHO, and UNICEF are increasingly unable to fill the the fiscal gap needed to ensure continued execution of national immunization program schedules. These are vital to maintaining herd immunity and protecting the public's health from life-threatening and debilitating diseases. With Declarations such as the Kathmandu Declaration and Kathmandu to Colombo and Beyond Declaration, these three countries are collectively moving forward towards reaching their respective goals in independently achieving sustainable immunization financing via internally conceived strategies and programs. Sabin SIF is proud to be a part of this collective process and effort; by providing the context, agenda and platform for these dialogs to take place, each of these three countries is making undeniable advances towards sustainable immunization financing.