On June 20 and 21, 2017, GHD/EMPHNET, the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (WHO EMRO), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Atlanta co-organized a meeting with major partners involved in Routine Immunization (RI) and Measles Elimination in the Eastern Mediterranean Region; namely GAVI – Vaccine Alliance, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UNICEF, and UNRWA.
Hosted at GHD/EMPHNET’s headquarters in Amman, the meeting served to study the challenges confronting RI and measles elimination in the region, especially in conflict-stricken countries. More importantly, the meeting also sought to identify mechanisms for sustainable synergies among key actors with the objective of combining and integrating their efforts for short-term and long-term impact on immunization outcomes.
At the meeting, the convening parties agreed on the seriousness of the current situation of immunization in the region, considering the decline in performance indicators between 2010 and 2015; and the urgent need for specific, context-oriented tools to supplement relevant strategies and help countries implement them.
The parties highlighted the need for jointly undertaking some priority short-term activities targeting ongoing measles outbreaks in some countries affected by conflict such as Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen. They also underscored the need for a new, contextual multi-partner mechanism to supplement existing regional technical groups and coordination forum efforts to secure a more sustainable and efficient implementation of recommended strategies.
For that purpose, participants proposed the creation of an emergency task force to be linked to the regional GAVI Working Group. This was considered in light of the recently revised Regional Working Group’s scope and ToRs and the fact that five out of the eight countries participants prioritized for urgent support (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria) are GAVI eligible. A small working group from partners was formed to guide the implementation of this recommendation.