With the recently announced Decade of Vaccine, there are more resources and attention directed to the introduction of life-saving vaccines. A key component of introducing life-saving vaccines is rigorous and scientific decision-making, independent of political and industry influence. National immunization technical advisory groups are best positioned to ensure transparent and evidence-based discourse among policy-makers and the scientific community.
The Regional Office is supporting the establishment and strengthening of these technical advisory groups in countries through advocacy, standardization, information-sharing and training. A regional action plan, guide and tools were shared with all countries to ensure standardized and well-functioning groups. Currently, 22 or 96% of countries in the Region have established technical advisory groups. Fifty percent of them are meeting, or are close to meeting, the required regional criteria. We are already witnessing dividends in even resource-poor countries, such as Sudan, where the technical advisory group and the Government decided to introduce rotavirus vaccine based on disease burden data.