The success of immunization programs relies heavily on immunization program managers, who facilitate every aspect of immunization programs, from cost-effective procurement of vaccines to the vigilant monitoring of vaccine safety and efficacy. Sabin’s IAIM Network is the largest international network of immunization managers, offering opportunities to connect, share knowledge and strengthen skills required to effectively implement immunization programs. This peer network creates opportunities for immunization professionals to share best practices and address the most pressing topics challenging immunization programs.

In this spotlight series, we will feature IAIM Network members to highlight their accomplishments as immunization managers and learn from their programs. This interview is with Aqa Gul Dost, EPI Advisor, Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan. This interview was edited for clarity and length. 

How long have you been an immunization manager?

I have been an EPI Manager for around ten years (May 2005 - February 2015), but right now I am an advisor for EPI at the Ministry of Public Health.

Why did you want to become an immunization manager?

I have a special interest in improving the health of women and children - the most vulnerable group in our country. And EPI happens to be one of the most cost effective and important component of basic health packages provided by the Ministry of Public Health.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is properly managing the EPI program in a very complex situation in the country.

What is your biggest professional achievement to date?

We have constructed strong national, regional, provincial, district and even health facility EPI teams to perform fixed, outreach and mobile EPI strategies according to the country situation, and based on these activities, we have improved and increased immunization coverage for all antigens. We introduced life-saving vaccines such as Penta, Hepatitis B birth dose, PCV, IPV and Rota rix vaccine in immunization schedules for the children of our country. We partnered with GAVI, WHO, UNICEF and several other partners to achieve this, and by doing so, decreased the mortality and morbidity of children.

In your opinion, what are the most valuable skills for an immunization manger?

The most valuable skills for an immunization manager are leadership and managerial skills, along with proper expertise in communications.

How can the IAIM Network help you as an immunization manager?

The IAIM Network can make opportunities to attend important workshops and short term training sessions available for immunization managers.

If you or an immunization professional you know has done work you would like to share with the broader IAIM Network community, please nominate them for a future spotlight by emailing us at [email protected].