Vaccine 2016 06 17;34(29):3420-6. Epub 2015 Dec 17.
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, 1 Rope Ferry Road, Hanover, NH 03755, USA; Ministry of Health, Government of Rwanda, PO Box 84, Kigali, Rwanda; Harvard Medical School, 25 Shattuck Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
As the pace of vaccine uptake accelerates globally, there is a need to document low-income country experiences with vaccine introductions. Over the course of five years, the government of Rwanda rolled out vaccines against pneumococcus, human papillomavirus, rotavirus, and measles & rubella, achieving over 90% coverage for each. To carry out these rollouts, Rwanda's Ministry of Health engaged in careful review of disease burden information and extensive, cross-sectoral planning at least one year before introducing each vaccine. Rwanda's local leaders, development partners, civil society organizations and widespread community health worker network were mobilized to support communication efforts. Community health workers were also used to confirm target population size. Support from Gavi, UNICEF and WHO was used in combination with government funds to promote country ownership and collaboration. Vaccination was also combined with additional community-based health interventions. Other countries considering rapid consecutive or simultaneous rollouts of new vaccines may consider lessons from Rwanda's experience while tailoring the strategies used to local context.