How Can New Vaccines be Rolled Out More Effectively? TDR Supported Series 12/12/2022 • Editorial team Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Margaret Gyapong, director of the Institute for Health Research at the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Ghana, with her research team. Whether researchers provide good quality data or not, healthcare systems will continue to function. In this episode of the “Global Health Matters” podcast, Margaret Gyapong, director of the Institute for Health Research at the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Ghana, tells host Garry Aslanyan that this has been a hard lesson that has shaped her career. Joining the podcast is also Lee Hampton, vaccine preventable disease surveillance and vaccine safety focal point at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance based in Switzerland. According to Gyapong, the drive to better serve healthcare providers has pushed her to ensure that she works on projects that are relevant and to consider them as true partners. This approach has been crucial in the development and deployment of the new malaria vaccine. “Just recently, the World Health Organization made their official recommendation to widely use the long-anticipated malaria vaccine,” Aslanyan notes. “This recommendation was based on research evidence from a pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya, and Malawi that reached more than 800 000 children since 2019. This is an excellent example of how evidence, based on implementation research, tells us whether the health interventions, such as vaccines, will be effective in real life beyond the laboratory.” Focusing on health workers Gyapong, who has been involved in the process, shares some of her experience. “Many times when we are delivering a new intervention, we think that we should focus all our attention on community members because they have low levels of literacy,” she says. “But then one of the things I have realized from the introduction of the new malaria vaccine is that we need to have a better understanding of our health care providers and the way they think.” “We found out that the health workers at the lower level who were going to be the frontline workers to deliver the vaccinations had a shorter period of training than those at the higher level, and the health workers complained bitterly,” Gyapong adds, pointing out that the need for better training is relevant also for COVID-19 vaccine’s deployment. Asked about what researchers working in different settings and areas should do, the scientist encourages them to understand “the situation on the ground” and “the needs of your stakeholders.” Different communities have different needs One of the challenges in deploying new vaccines is the expectation that strategies that are developed and tested in a specific society, often a high-income one, can be applied to other places, Hampton tells Aslanyan. “We have a strong tendency to try to apply the game plans and the experience that worked in those countries that had the resources to first do the development everywhere,” he points out. “But then we run into trouble.” Understanding the needs and characteristics of each community is crucial for a successful vaccination campaign. Hampton offers the example of the newly developed typhoid conjugate vaccine, which they expect will help prevent tens of thousands of cases and potential deaths. Image Credits: Courtesy of TDR. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Combat the infodemic in health information and support health policy reporting from the global South. Our growing network of journalists in Africa, Asia, Geneva and New York connect the dots between regional realities and the big global debates, with evidence-based, open access news and analysis. To make a personal or organisational contribution click here on PayPal.