Image: Attendees at the AIHSS Inception Workshop in West Sepik, November 2019
Over 5.3 million deaths occur amongst children under five years of age globally. Sadly, it is estimated that more than half of these deaths could have been prevented with simple and affordable interventions.
Global public health leaders agree that immunisation is one the most successful and cost-effective means to preventing up to 2-3 million under five childhood deaths. Gains from immunisation expand beyond better disease outcomes, positively impacting a child’s societal, educational and economic development.
Despite these gains, low immunisation coverage means that 20 million children miss receiving essential lifesaving immunisation, mostly in low and middle income countries like Papua New Guinea (PNG). In 2018, immunisation coverage in PNG was below 50% compared the national target of 80%. West Sepik Province is one region facing substantial challenges reaching immunisation targets with geographical access, due to harsh geography, lack of transport infrastructure and a highly dispersed rural population hindering high coverage.
Aim and approach
Led by the West Sepik Provincial Health Authority (WSPHA), with Burnet Institute to partner as an Immunization Support Provider, the Accelerated Immunisation and Health System strengthening (AIHSS) Program will support WSPHA to improve governance, planning, operations, financial management and routine immunisation service delivery with a focus on hard to reach communities.
Delivered over three years, the program will provide a package of routine vaccinations to children aged under one. Focusing on five key areas for system strengthening, immunisation coverage is expected to increase from around 30 per cent to at least 80 per cent, preventing future outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.
These five areas are:
- Scaling-up service delivery through fixed facilities, mobile outreach and overnight patrols
- Improving community engagement and social mobilisation
- Building provincial capacity for financial and project management
- Strengthening provincial capacity for routine immunisation planning and monitoring
- Bolstering surveillance and health information system innovations
A high-level Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Burnet Institute and the West Sepik Provincial Health Authority on the 25th November 2019 demonstrating a commitment to strengthened partnership and collaboration between the two organisations.
October 2019 – March 2022