Time for a rethink of NITAG functioning: study tour in Australia for Lao PDR NITAG
ATAGI welcomed representatives from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the World Health Organization Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) to observe the meeting held on 16 and 17 February 2017. Five delegates from LAO PDR were invited to attend the meeting, including the NITAG chair and vice-chair, NITAG secretariat and two EPI managers.
A brief history of Lao PDR NITAG
In 2013, Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) introduced a ministerial decree establishing a National Immunization Technical Advisory Group. Lao PDR NITAG comprises of expertise from different departments of the Ministry of Health (and one member from Ministry of Finance), and receives advice from technical partners including WHO and UNICEF. It was only on August 2015 that the NITAG met for the first time.
A smooth study tour
A side meeting with ATAGI secretariat and Prof Ross Andrews (ATAGI Chair) was held at the Office of Health Protection, Department of Health and Ageing on Feb 15, 2017 to discuss and learn about ATAGI as well as overall immunization program in Australia. The ATAGI meeting started on Feb 16 and continued for 2 days. Delegates then gave a presentation on the immunisation program in Laos and the recent establishment of the country’s national immunisation technical advisory group (NITAG).
key take-home messages
- A variety of scientific professions (epidemiologists, labs, public health specialists, health economists and communication specialists) is key
- Terms of Reference should be clearly stated
- Ask for help: well-established NITAGs and WHO regional offices can offer their support to strengthen the capacity of NITAGs
- A long term vision is the greatest tool for success