Mozambique and Angola, hand in hand
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.
A NITAG in Angola?
The establishment of the Angolan NITAG (GTNCI) will be official pending the signature of the ministerial decree. The study tour was taken as an opportunity to identify CoPI best practices applicable to the Angolan context. It was held in Maputo on March 21-24th, 2017 and was kindly hosted by the CoPI Chair Dr Jahit Sacarlal. The Angolan delegation was represented by Dr Margarida Correia, pediatrician leading the immunization section of the Angolan association for pediatrics, and Dra Joana Admiro from the EPI team.
Technical discussions covered topics regarding CoPI scope and missions and secretariat role and functioning. Operational tools were presented (internal procedures manual, CoI policy, annual work plan) and the experience of CoPI regarding the development of evidence–based recommendations was widely discussed. Several meetings were organized with different CoPI members and representatives from the WHO and UNICEF country offices on the role and integration of CoPI into the Mozambican decision making system.
2017 is a turning point for Angola. The country is indeed in the process of transitioning out of GAVI and, following the yellow fever outbreak in 2016, the coverage of certain vaccines was left in tatters. The vaccination coverage for Penta3 plummeted to 63%. In a context of competing priorities in the public health sector, the Angolan NITAG will have a major role to play in guiding immunization decision-makers.