In June 2015, immunization officials from Senegal, Mali and Cameroon came together in Dakar, Senegal, to discuss expenditure tracking mechanisms used by countries to improve budget accountability for immunization. During the workshop, organized by Sabin’s Sustainable Immunization Financing (SIF) program, participants identified and evaluated common immunization expenditure tracking practices and evidence-based budget advocacy approaches. Over the six months that followed, all three delegations reorganized their financial data to help win budget increases for their national immunization programs.

Following the workshop, each delegation took a different approach to advocate for greater investment in immunization. The Senegalese peers presented an analysis of the 2014 immunization spending to the Finance Minister. The Minister reacted positively and increased the 2016 program budget by 86 percent. Briefed on the Minister’s commitment, the Senegalese Parliamentary Network ensured that this increase was preserved in the national budget act. These actions by both executive and legislative branches of government suggest that Senegal is taking financial ownership over its immunization program.

The delegation from Mali conducted an analysis of immunization program expenditures for 2009-2014, which revealed that the government was contributing less than 20 percent of the routine immunization budget. The Malian peers presented their analysis to the newly formed Parliamentary Network for Immunization Sustainability, giving the Network ammunition to push for greater spending on immunization. When the 2016 health budget reached parliament, Parliamentary Network President Hon. Abdoulaye Dembele and 65 other Network members convinced the government to increase the routine immunization budget by 17 percent.  

Returning from the Dakar workshop, the representatives from Cameroon learned the national immunization program was facing a 2016 budget cut due to Ministry-wide rollbacks. Working with the EPI Manager and Ministry of Health Cooperation Director, the peers used the SIF budget flow analysis tool to organize their budget figures into an advocacy memo, which they presented to the Health Minister. The Minister not only agreed to maintain the 2016 budget at the 2015 level but increased the budget by 29 percent.

“This experience demonstrates the power of resource tracking in the advocacy sphere,” commented Sabin Senior Program Officer Jonas Mbwangue, who led the workshop in Dakar and works with all three countries. In the coming months, Mbwangue plans to bring the three peer networks together again, this time to expand the expenditure analysis to the subnational level.

Figure 1:

Source: Ministry of Health reports to Sabin/SIF Program.

Figure 2:

Source: WHO/UNICEF Joint Reporting Form Indicator 6540, UN Population Division.

Find more details, including a list of the key players from each country, in SIF’s newsletter.