“This is an unprecedented opportunity,” said Erika Linnander, director of the Yale Global Health Initiative (GHLI), during her opening remarks at the recent launch in Kigali, Rwanda of a new immunization program. “I see such an exceptionally diverse group here today to help support this program — nurses, managers, policymakers, government officials, development partners, physicians, and educators. This coming together in support of improved management and leadership is fundamental to the achievement of global health targets.”
GHLI joined the Rwanda-based University of Global Health Equity (UGHE), PATH, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to strengthen management of national immunization programs around the world. The Expanded Program on Immunization Leadership and Management Program (EPI LAMP) is a training course to improve the managerial capacity of governments to support Gavi’s mission to ensure every child is protected with life-saving vaccines. “New vaccines are coming, and with that comes new complexities, but we are up to the challenge,” continued Linnander who is principal investigator for EPI LAMP.
“I am inspired by the vision and the bar being set with this program,” said Ann Kurth, dean of the Yale School of Nursing, who conveyed a message of encouragement from Yale President Salovey at the program’s launch on May 7. “We can have the technology, but we cannot do this without the human hands to deliver vaccines. The importance of workforce cannot be overstated.”
Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance aims to immunize 300 million children worldwide between 2016 and 2020. Achieving this goal requires effective planning, implementation, and monitoring of immunization programs — which can challenging as ministries of health are often inadequately resourced and need support to improve their management practices. The first edition of EPI LAMP will address these challenges by providing management and leadership training for 24 participants in leadership roles in immunization programs in Gavi-supported countries, including the Gambia, India, Liberia, Rwanda, and Zambia
“At Gavi, we know that the effective management of immunization programs is key to reaching all children with life-saving vaccines,” said Gavi Deputy CEO Anuradha Gupta. “Designed jointly by the U.S.-based Yale Global Health Leadership Initiative, the Rwanda-based University of Global Health Equity, and PATH, this unique course will give our mission an important boost,” she added.
EPI LAMP’s team-based learning model is based on a blended learning approach that creates an interactive and practical education experience for mid- to senior officials. This model aims to better equip the immunization team with ways to manage the increasingly complex immunization systems in their home countries, with a focus on efficient operations, robust performance management, and effective political engagement and advocacy.
Upon returning to their home regions, the participants will continue in the program through e-learning and begin work on their project. Examples of project work includes: meeting the target rates for full immunization at 1 year of age in three priority states across India; closing the gap in coverage rates between the first and second dose of measles vaccine (Rwanda, Gambia); and raising immunization coverage rates in the seven lowest-performing counties in Liberia.
“Thoughtful leadership and effective management practices are necessary to strategically and equitably improve health systems, including making sure vaccines reach children in every corner of the world,” said UGHE Vice Chancellor Dr. Agnes Binagwaho. “By hosting this forum in Rwanda, participants will train in an environment that prepares them to both address delivery challenges, as well as inspire them to improve access to high quality care.”
EPI LAMP is led by Linnander, together with Binagwaho (co-principal investigator, UGHE) and Aziza Mwisongo (co-principal investigator, PATH). This consortium brings together GHLI’s proven management and leadership development approaches, UGHE’s commitment to innovation in education of healthcare professionals, and PATH’s global expertise in strengthening immunization systems.
GHLI leadership development programs are guided by a model of experiential learning that enhances both individual and group problem-solving capacity, develops effective relationships and organization cultures, promotes use of data for decision-making, and generates evidence-based solutions that can be scaled up.