WHO/Europe supports development of evidence-based immunization policy and practice


NITAG training workshop, 27–29 May 2013 in Antalya, Turkey

WHO/Europe provides ongoing support to national immunization technical advisory groups (NITAGs) in low- and middle-income countries, in part by building their capacity to provide scientific recommendations to their ministries of health on immunization policy and practice.

As part of this effort, WHO/Europe, in collaboration with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has developed training materials and recently conducted a training workshop on “Development of evidence-based recommendations in immunization policy and practice”.

The workshop, held on 27–29 May 2013 in Antalya, Turkey, was conducted for NITAG members from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. The workshop consisted of a series of presentations, case studies and plenary discussions, with ample opportunities for questions and discussion.

Members and secretariat representatives of long-established NITAGs from Germany, the Netherlands and the United States, along with members of the European Technical Advisory Group of Experts (ETAGE), shared their experiences in making scientific recommendations on immunization and facilitated case studies and plenary discussions.

Evidence-based decision-making

Training focused on evidence-based decision-making related to the introduction of new vaccines. This is a priority topic for participating countries because health ministries need to make decisions on introduction of rotavirus, pneumococcal and human papillomavirus vaccines among others, introduction of inactivated polio vaccine in the context of Polio Eradication Endgame Strategic Plan and expansion of seasonal influenza vaccination programmes.

The training provided an opportunity to discuss:

  • the framework for making evidence-based recommendations;
  • criteria to be considered;
  • possible sources of evidence and opportunities for international collaboration;
  • updated methods to evaluate evidence;
  • preparation of NITAG meeting reports for ministries of health;
  • case studies on considering the introduction of new vaccines.

Follow up

The workshop was co-sponsored by the Supporting National Independent Immunization and Vaccine Advisory Committees (SIVAC) Initiative and led by WHO/Europe and CDC experts. The Regional Office and CDC will follow up the training by providing consultancy support to participating NITAGs in preparing topics for their next meetings and by reviewing meeting reports and recommendations developed for the ministries of health.

The ETAGE members and participating NITAG members from Germany, the Netherlands and the United States expressed their interest in continuing collaboration with WHO and in providing further support to recently established NITAGs by:

  • sharing recently conducted literature reviews and other information;
  • hosting members of NITAGs at their meetings; and 
  • sharing their experiences and best practices at other WHO meetings and trainings.

In November 2013 the Regional Office will use the developed training methodology and materials in a similar workshop for NITAGs from other middle-income countries in the Region.