Measles and rubella campaigns support the strengthening of immunization systems
There are a number of ways measles and rubella campaigns strengthen immunization systems:
- Improved microplanning
- Training of health workers
- Reinforcement of the cold chain
- Improvement of the medical waste management system
- Increased injection safety standards
- Strengthened disease surveillance systems
- Increased community demand for vaccination
Detailed planning improves access to immunization services and develops strategies on how to reach under-served and hard-to-reach populations. Measles and rubella campaigns present an opportunity through training and support to improve microplanning at the district level. Following campaigns, the plans are often used for routine immunization services, thus strengthening health systems and improving access.
Vaccination campaigns build the capacity of health workers by providing refresher training on the latest immunization standards and techniques. This training equips individuals with the knowledge, understanding and skills to perform effectively during and long after the campaign. In Nigeria, more than 240,000 personnel were trained prior to the start of the 2008 measles campaign.
Poorly functioning cold chain systems are a major constraint in many countries. Measles and rubella campaigns provide the opportunity to expand, replace and repair cold chain equipment. In Pakistan for example, 20,000 vaccine carriers, 90,000 ice packs, 400 cold boxes, 1,000 refrigerators and 500 freezers procured prior to the measles vaccination campaign will be utilized by the health system in the years to come.
The medical waste management system is reviewed during campaign planning and improvements made to accommodate the waste produced during the campaign. In Togo, 32 incinerators were repaired prior to the measles campaign, which will reduce potential community exposure to infections and injuries.
To reduce the risk of spreading blood-borne disease through reuse of needles and syringes, the use of auto-disable syringes has been recommended since their introduction in the 1990s. The Measles & Rubella Initiative catalyzed the introduction of these one-use syringes into many countries in Africa by providing the opportunity to train immunization staff on their use and by lowering the price. After the first widespread use of auto-disable syringes during measles campaigns, countries switched to these syringes in their routine immunization programs.