National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups (NITAGs) provide independent, evidence-informed advice to assist their governments in immunization policy formation. However, many NITAGs face challenges in fulfilling their roles. Hence the many requests for formation of a network linking NITAGs together so they can learn from each other.
The NITAG session at the April SAGE meeting 2017 includes presentations of three committees: JCVI (UK NITAG), Sri Lanka and Senegal. The NITAG of Cote d'Ivoire is taking this opportunity to present its success and challenges.
The Global NITAG Network will meet in June 28th - 29th, 2017 in Berlin. The Organizing Committee composed of representatives of the Robert Koch Institute (as the hosting institutions), AMP-HPID, US CDC, WHO and representatives from the NITAG network are currently developing the meeting agenda. Last year report can be downloaded to get prepared for this year meeting and get familiarized with the NITAG members.
The SIVAC initiative is supporting the Togo NITAG, the youngest to be established in West Africa where 7 countries are still without NITAG. Targeting over 25 participants, the training on issuing evidence-based recommendation notes is being held in Lomé from April 4th to 6th, 2017.
In Senegal, the NITAG (CCVS) Chair tasks six experts to work on cerebrospinal meningitis. The objective is simple: to define whether or not it is appropriate to introduce the MenAfriVac in the routine EPI, starting from 2017. Indeed, Senegal is inside a meningitis belt and is regularly exposed to epidemic flares of cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM).
The vaccine was introduced in the country as part of a campaign in 2012. WHO recommends that the vaccine be introduced into the routine EPI within five years of a campaign. Then, in 2015, Senegal's Minister for Health sent a request to the CCVS experts.
With the support of the SIVAC initiative, the Angolan NITAG Secretariat members visited the Comitê de Peritos para la Imunização (CoPI) that is the Mozambican NITAG. CoPI was established in 2011 and is one of the most functional committees in the AFR Region to date. It has held 12 meetings during which 27 recommendations were issued on different areas related to vaccination.
NACI have released the update on the recommended use of Hepatitis B vaccine. It includes 4 main recommendations:
- NACI does not recommend routine booster doses of HB vaccine for immunocompetent individuals following the completion of a recommended HB immunization schedule given in infancy.
- NACI recommends that adults with diabetes need not be considered as a separate high risk group for immunization with HB vaccine.
- For immunocompromised individuals, initial annual monitoring of HB antibody levels following HB immunization may be considered
- Immunization with HB-containing vaccine should be provided according to determined provincial and territorial (P/T) schedules.
Following the recommendation of the Middle Income Country Stragtegy conducted in november 2015, Swaziland officially establishes its NITAG. The committee will guide policy makers as well as the programme on making evidence-based immunization related policy decisions.
The areas of expertise represented in the NITAG are: pediatrics, epidemiology, research and vaccinology, programme manager, medical officer, immunization logistics. The NITAG currently has a total of 7 members.