Steinglass: Culture of learning could improve immunization programs

Robert Steinglass, a senior immunization adviser at John Snow, Inc., recently said that creating a culture of learning that fosters innovation could improve the success of immunization programs.

Steinglass recently moderated a Gavi Partners' Forum titled "Innovative Approaches to Immunization and Health Delivery," in Tanzania.

Researchers from multiple countries presented immunization program innovations during the event. In one instance, health authorities in Ghana developed strategies to reach distant fishing communities. In another, officials sent SMS messages to remind mothers of immunization appointments in Kenya, the Guardian reports.

Other innovations discussed at the forum include more effective tracking and monitoring, linked peripheral health services and using mobile phone technology to track vaccine supply level.

Steinglass said that by providing opportunities for districts and health facilities to learn from each other, good practices are accelerated and replicated in countries that need effective immunization programs. He said that changes can be made to encourage such important innovations.

"I believe the ultimate innovation could be to deliberately create a stimulating culture of learning that seeks to do this," Steinglass said, according to the Guardian. "Such a culture of learning is more likely to emerge when it is inclusive of multiple perspectives, diverse disciplines and broad partnerships and when staff have an opportunity to learn from peers working on the same problems."

Steinglass said that the investment in incremental improvement in products, processes and activities may overcome stagnant programs and significantly help programs to meet their ultimate goal of reducing morbidity, mortality and disability from preventable diseases, the Guardian reports.