A new tool available for NITAGs to evaluate themselves
In line with global calls for increased country ownership of immunization policies, a large proportion of countries established National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups (NITAGs). Enhancing NITAGs’ functionality has become a priority and is a marker of countries’ commitment to immunization, as stated in the Global Vaccine Action Plan 2011-2020 (GVAP; Strategic Objective 1). NITAGs are independent bodies that aim to advise decision-makers on all immunization-related issues, regardless of target population or age group.
Through the SIVAC Initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Health Policy and Institutional Development (HPID) Unit of the Agence de Médecine Préventive (AMP) supports NITAG establishment, strengthening and networking in collaboration with WHO and partners, since 2008.
NITAG functionality is currently assessed, through the annual monitoring of a set of six indicators, in the WHO/UNICEF Joint reporting form. These indicators are used to monitor progress towards the GVAP 2011-2020 targets. Additionally, a set of 17 process, output and outcome indicators was developed, in 2013 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and SIVAC Initiative to assess NITAG performance. These great attempts to evaluate NITAGs needed to be merged into an integrated approach of NITAG performance that investigates holistically functioning principles and operating processes, as well as its role and impact on national immunization policies.
This approach evaluates NITAGs in their mission of informing immunization policy-making, using a performance definition that considers three dimensions:
- Functionality: Do NITAG’s structure and operations foster the timely generation of recommendations?
- Quality: Has the NITAG developed formalized and implemented appropriate processes to ensure quality recommendations?
- Integration: Is the NITAG fully integrated into the decision-making system?