Photo: Mongolian and Indonesian delegates, with the support of SIF’s Dr. Khongorzul Dari, make suggestions to Indonesia’s immunization law during the Asia Peer Review Workshop on Sustainable Immunization Financing.

Mongolia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Cambodia are making unprecedented progress towards securing sustainable immunization financing. A regional workshop co-sponsored by the National Assembly of Cambodia and the Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Sustainable Immunization Financing (SIF) program has accelerated the development of new immunization-related legislation and nationally-led financing practices geared towards this goal.

Lasting health solutions that benefit all citizens can only truly be achieved when that nation fully finances its health programs. The sustained and country-owned financing of immunization programs is essential to achieving greater health for the world’s most vulnerable populations and the goals outlined by the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP).

To address this issue, the regional peer review workshop held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, brought together delegations from six Asian countries to exchange and evaluate their efforts to secure enduring public financing mechanisms for immunization.

Parliamentarians from Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Vietnam presented their national immunization programs’ advances in immunization legislation, financing, budgeting and resource tracking. When implemented, efforts in these four areas guarantee sustained public spending on vaccinations, even after external funding from outside donors tailors off.

The 55 participants in attendance reviewed each other’s work and shared best practices – an exercise which strengthened the delegates’ abilities to accelerate progress towards sustainable immunization financing in their home countries. Drafters of Cambodia’s immunization law also had the opportunity to present their findings to a wider audience from the Cambodian National Assembly.

 “The workshop provided an enriching learning experience for all participants,” said Devendra Gnawali, a Senior Program Officer for the Sustainable Immunization Financing Program. “I’m confident the parliamentarians, and ministry of Health and Finance officials in attendance will return to their countries with an increased capacity to secure immunization financing.”

Back in their respective countries, delegates have been quick to follow up the workshop with new activities aimed at securing sustainable immunization financing. In Nepal and Sri Lanka, new immunization financing legislation is nearing parliamentary passage and is expected to soon be signed into law. To speed up the process, Cambodia is developing a ministerial sub-decree which will accelerate ongoing development of their national immunization law.  The other three countries in attendance, Vietnam, Mongolia and Indonesia, already have such laws. Nevertheless, Indonesian delegates are contemplating updates to strengthen financing and update other provisions within their immunization law such as support for the Indonesian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ITAGI).

In addition, Khongorzul Dari, a SIF Senior Program Officer, is advising Vietnam’s National Institute of Epidemiology and Health as it organizes another series of advocacy activities with provincial officials aimed at increasing subnational immunization financing and improving expenditure reporting. Other developments include progress towards establishing a national immunization trust fund in, Nepal.

The regional workshop was organized by Sabin Senior Program Officers Devendra Gnawali and Khongorzul Dari, with colleagues from Cambodia’s National Assembly, and was facilitated by counterparts from the Cambodian National Assembly, WHO (Cambodia and Indonesia), UNICEF (Cambodia, Nepal and Indonesia) and the Sabin Vaccine Institute. The full workshop report can be obtained here.