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Hanoi, Vietnam, April 29, 2019 – For almost ten years, PATH has supported Vietnam’s efforts to develop and scale a national electronic immunization registry (EIR). As the country prepares to close the paper logbooks for the final time, PATH is providing assistance to ensure that no child is left behind and to document Vietnam’s journey to a national EIR so that others may learn from its successes and challenges.
The Introducing Digital Immunization information systems–Exchange And Learning from Vietnam (IDEAL-Vietnam) project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will work closely with Vietnam’s Ministry of Health (MOH) to facilitate a successful transition to an entirely paperless immunization system and generate and share evidence-based and data-driven learning and experience from Vietnam to inform, influence, and accelerate the successful implementation of similar tools in other countries and contexts.
Vaccinations have saved the lives of more children than any other medical intervention in the past 50 years, and an effective immunization approach is a critical factor in the eradication of disease. To be effective, however, doses must be administered at the appropriate intervals. Prior to 2012, all of Vietnam’s immunization records were paper-based. Time consuming, laborious, prone to errors, and a barrier to efficient vaccine stock management, this system was making it difficult to ensure children and pregnant women were getting the timely protection they needed to defend them from dangerous but preventable diseases.
In 2012, PATH began collaborating with Vietnam’s National Expanded Program on Immunization to find innovative ways to improve immunization coverage for women and children. Together they developed and tested ImmReg, a digital database that houses and tracks immunization records, and VaxTrak, a digital tool for tracking vaccine stocks and distribution. Initially piloted in select districts in Ben Tre Province, in 2013 VaxTrak and ImmReg became integrated into one system and were scaled up to the provincial level. Evaluation of the Ben Tre pilot one year after the intervention showed that the on-time delivery of vaccines for measles, oral polio, and Quinvaxem (a five-in-one vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type b) increased up to 20 percent, and the dropout rate for BCG-Measles 1 dropped from 12.8 percent down to 0 percent.
Following the pilot’s successes, Vietnam’s MOH invested in the development of a comprehensive nationwide immunization database and reporting system: the National Immunization Information System (NIIS). PATH has provided technical assistance for the development of the NIIS since 2016. In March 2017, the MOH officially launched the NIIS; as of June 2018, the system was available in 99.8 percent of commune health centers nationwide, with more than 11 million children and women registered in the system.
Vietnam’s journey from small-scale pilot to national system has been the result of successful collaboration, commitment, and planning. However, it did not come without hurdles, some of which are still ongoing. Inconsistent data quality, limited capacity among health workers to use data for effective and efficient vaccination delivery, limitations in data analysis for immunization program planning, and low uptake of the NIIS among private-sector facilities are key challenges the MOH and PATH are working hard to address. The process of overcoming these challenges will yield valuable learning opportunities for Vietnam and other countries considering, introducing, or scaling an EIR.
IDEAL-Vietnam will run from 2018 to 2021. Learn more at www.path.org, and register for updates from the IDEAL-Vietnam project by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
PATH is a global organization that works to accelerate health equity by bringing together public institutions, businesses, social enterprises, and investors to solve the world’s most pressing health challenges. With expertise in science, health, economics, technology, advocacy, and dozens of other specialties, PATH develops and scales solutions—including vaccines, drugs, devices, diagnostics, and innovative approaches to strengthening health systems worldwide. Learn more at http://www.path.org/.