Optimizing data reporting to support evidence-informed decision-making on immunization


Progress in the control of vaccine-preventable diseases cannot be measured or accelerated without high-quality data on disease incidence, immunization coverage, vaccine procurement/policies and the performance of national immunization systems. 67 immunization programme managers and data managers from 36 European Member States met in Athens, Greece, on 23–24 February 2017 to discuss potential improvements to the data collection process and to identify technical assistance required to improve the timeliness and completeness of data collected and reported by their respective countries.

Dr Ioannis Baskozos, General Secretary of Public Health of Greece and member of the Standing Committee of the Regional Committee (a subcommittee of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe), opened the meeting, which was also attended by representatives of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and WHO headquarters.

Annual reporting process

Each year WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) jointly collect data submitted by each Member State through the Joint Reporting Form (JRF). The JRF data are used to inform national decision-making and to track implementation of the European Vaccine Action Plan (EVAP) and the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), which are key frameworks to guide immunization strategies at regional and global levels. Annual progress reports on EVAP and GVAP are presented to the European Regional Committee and the World Health Assembly, respectively, and are used to provide feedback and support to Member States.

Although the JRF data collection process begun in 1998, this was the first region-wide meeting organized by WHO/Europe with the specific objective of identifying ways to improve the JRF reporting mechanism and the quality of data collected.

WHO’s role is to provide tools and data reporting mechanisms, but also to facilitate discussion on how they can be optimized to serve countries best, explained Mr Robb Butler, Programme Manager, Vaccine-preventable Diseases and Immunization. “I am buoyed by the commitment of the Member States to improve data quality and their eagerness to collaborate on this vital topic. I look forward to further improving efficiency and thereby lightening the reporting burden on countries.”

Outcomes of the meeting included support for the introduction of online data submission, and organization of biannual meetings to continue consultation and dialogue in this area.