Juba, 12 December 2018 – To improve immunization and surveillance strategies, the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) officers and field supervisors of all states, gathered from 11 to 13 December 2018 to review the Expanded Programme on Immunization program performance in 2018, the accountability system and its impact on staff performance.
The objective of the meeting was to better understand how the EPI officers and field supervisors in the different states and counties use the open data kit (ODK) in improving and documenting their activities; measure staff performance and give feedback; understand the programme achievements, along with challenges and better plan for 2019. The meeting was also used to build capacity and prepare for the country’s submission of its polio program performance to the Africa Regional Certification Committee in 2019.
Welcoming facilitators and participants at the workshop, Dr Sylvester Maleghemi speaking on behalf of Dr Olushayo Olu, the World Health Organization Country Representative for South Sudan, stated that while the country continues to remain polio-free with the last outbreak of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus 2 (cVDPV2) reported in April 2015, everyone must be alert with the ongoing outbreaks in some countries in the Horn of Africa and to ensure the country achieves polio certification in 2019.
He also stressed that the use of eMobile technology to monitor staff performance started in May 2017, and will be used for staff appraisals to ensure that the best hands remain on board while performance plans need to be instituted where needed. While appreciating the impact of the mobile technology he highlighted some of the results which included the ability to demonstrate over 5 000 supportive supervisory visits, identify where clusters of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases occur and who in the community had been trained.
The country continues to report low routine immunization coverage with the WHO/UNICEF Estimates of National Immunization Coverage (WUENIC) estimate putting Penta 3 at 26% for 2018, which places the country at risk for importation of the virus. Hence there is a need to improve the quality of the polio campaigns as this may be the only opportunity for a child to receive the bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) vaccine.
Participants in the workshop, including the field supervisor from Wau, Western Bahir el Ghazal state, Mr Juma Bai commented that use of this mobile system had made data collection accurate, reliable and in real time and also ensured that he achieved the mandated nine visits to facilities each month. On lessons learnt he concluded that the meeting had strengthened his knowledge and skill on EPI, Integrated disease surveillance, ODK assisted case investigation and supportive supervision activities.
At the end of the workshop, 2019 work plans were developed for the PEI program, along with the need for the mobile technology to be extended to other partners involved in both surveillance and immunization and that the field assistants who are at the Payams to be encouraged to use the ODK for data collection and reporting.