Protecting health workforce through vaccination in low and lower-middle income countries
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World Federation of Public Health Associations, New Zealand
WHO Monkeypox Emergency Committee, WHO, Democratic Republic of Congo
Ministry of Health, Afganistan
The Latin American Alliance for Global Health, Costa Rica
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A307
Outline: Protecting people worldwide with the appropriate vaccinations is a priority to save millions of lives. This is even more true for the healthcare and public health workforce, very often at the front line in caring for patients and communities. Indeed, the World Health Organization has prioritized healthcare workers for COVID-19 vaccine. While many countries, including those in less wealthy settings, often have infrastructures and policies to guarantee vaccinations for children, this is not always the case for adults nor for health workers. Indeed, in many countries a lack of infrastructures or appropriate policies undermine the access to vaccination throughout the life span. This means that high risks categories like the health workers are not protected creating a huge problem not only for the individual but for the whole society.  Vaccine administration relies on existing immunization infrastructures. However, worldwide nearly 40% of countries have no immunization infrastructure to deliver adult immunization and almost 60% of the world’s population lives in countries with no routine adult immunization programs. This applies also to the health workers.  COVID-19 vaccines are being administered in many low- and lower-middle income countries (LIC and LMIC) that do not have routine adult immunization infrastructure. This means also lack of mobilization and outreach, poor vaccine storage, handling, delivery, and waste management ability for this category. To administer COVID-19 vaccines to the adult populations, needed infrastructures and related actives should be developed. We should take advantage of this momentum to advocate for a sustainable development of infrastructures and measures to guarantee vaccination during the full life span, going beyond COVID-19 vaccine, starting with the health workforce.  Aims: The World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) has worked together with its public health associations members to map out in which LIC and LMIC countries those structures are in place or under preparation to support the COVID-19 immunization, with the goal of encouraging the use of these resources to ensure sustainable routine immunization of health workers. Through literature review, WHO data analyses, survey among our members and focus groups, WFPHA has developed a series of recommendations to be used by national public health association to advocate with their government to reach this common goal.  Key questions: During the workshop, key opinion leaders from different regions will discuss the recommendations and share their experiences on how to develop, strengthen, and sustain immunization systems for health workers in LICs and LMICs and beyond to ensure routine immunization protecting health workers, patients and communities.
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