An Evaluation of the Consequences of Covid-19 On Immunisation Programme Financing and Service Delivery in a Lower Middle Income Country – The Case of Zambia

Authors

  • Moses Simuyemba University of Zambia
  • Chitalu Chama-Chiliba University of Zambia
  • Abson Chompolola University of Zambia
  • Aaron Sinyangwe University of Zambia
  • Abdallah Bchir Monastir Medical School, University of Monastir, Tunisia
  • Gilbert Asiimwe Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Felix Masiye University of Zambia

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.55320/mjz.51.1.466

Keywords:

EPI, immunisation, covid-19, immunisation financing, vaccines

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health systems globally, affecting various services, including immunization programs. This study evaluates the impact of COVID-19 on immunization program financing and service delivery in Zambia, a lower-middle-income country, to understand how such disruptions could reshape future healthcare priorities and funding.

Methods: The study employed a mixed-methods approach, integrating both qualitative and quantitative data collection. Data were gathered at national and sub-national levels, including in-depth interviews with 36 healthcare workers and an online survey completed by 44 staff members. The evaluation focused on the changes in government funding, the effect on static and outreach immunization activities, vaccine supply distribution, and the impact on human resources within the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI).

Results: Findings indicated that while regular disbursements to districts improved in 2020, there was heightened competition for limited resources due to COVID-19, leading to a redirection of funds from routine immunization to pandemic-related activities. The study revealed a significant decline in immunization coverage, attributed to reduced health facility visits and outreach sessions. Additionally, financial constraints heightened by the pandemic made it challenging for districts to accommodate the extra costs associated with implementing COVID-19-compliant immunization services. Human resources for immunization were also impacted, with staff being reallocated to COVID-19 response activities, thus increasing workload and stress levels among remaining personnel.

Conclusion: COVID-19 has substantially affected the funding, delivery, and human resource components of Zambia's immunization program. Despite an increase in regular funding disbursements, the redirection of funds to COVID-19 activities has strained routine immunization services. The pandemic has highlighted the need for robust health systems that can withstand global health crises without compromising essential services like immunization. Recommendations include closer monitoring of immunization service delivery impacts, assessment of COVID-19's financial implications on immunization, development of clear protocols for service delivery under pandemic conditions, and a re-investment in community engagement and education post-pandemic.

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Published

14-06-2024

Issue

Section

Original Article

How to Cite

An Evaluation of the Consequences of Covid-19 On Immunisation Programme Financing and Service Delivery in a Lower Middle Income Country – The Case of Zambia . (2024). Medical Journal of Zambia, 51(1), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.55320/mjz.51.1.466

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