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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574

SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.105 n.11 Cape Town Nov. 2015

http://dx.doi.org/10.7196/SAMJ.2015.V105I11.10177 

FORUM
COCHRANE CORNER

 

Interventions for improving childhood vaccination coverage in low- and middle-income countries

 

 

C S WiysongeI, II; T YoungIII, IV; T KredoIII; M McCaulV; J VolminkVI, VII; Behalf of Cochrane South Africa

IMD. PhD; Cochrane South Africa, South African Medical Research Council, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa
IIMD. PhD; Centre for Evidence-Based Health Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa
IIIMB ChB, MMed;Cochrane South Africa, South African Medical Research Council, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa
IVMB ChB, MMed; Centre for Evidence-Based Health Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa
VBHSc, MSc;Centre for Evidence-Based Health Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa
VIFRCP, DPhil; Cochrane South Africa, South African Medical Research Council, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa
VIIFRCP, DPhil; Centre for Evidence-Based Health Care, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa

Correspondence

 

 


ABSTRACT

QUESTION: 'Cochrane Corner' in the November SAMJ highlights a Cochrane review that evaluated the effects of interventions for improving childhood vaccination coverage in low- and middle-income countries. : Which interventions increase the uptake of childhood vaccines in low- and middle-income countries?
BOTTOM LINE: Health education, home visits and reminders probably increase the uptake of childhood vaccines in low- and middle-income countries
.


 

 

Worldwide, vaccination prevents three million child deaths annually and could do more if optimal coverage were attained.[1-3] However, vaccination coverage remains suboptimal in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We highlight a Cochrane review that evaluated the effects of interventions for improving childhood vaccination coverage in LMICs.[4]

Fig. 1 shows a logical framework for thinking through interventions for increasing coverage.

The review included six studies (with 7 922 participants) conducted in Ghana, Georgia, Honduras, India, and Pakistan.

Three studies focused on health education interventions: evidence-based discussions in communities on the importance of childhood vaccination; information campaigns in communities using audiotape messages and printed materials; and education in health centres on the importance of completing the vaccination schedule. Two studies assessed the effects of home visits to identify unvaccinated children and refer them to health centres and the training of immunisation managers to provide supportive supervision for healthcare providers, respectively. The sixth study evaluated effects of withdrawing monetary vouchers from mothers who did not vaccinate their children and a multifaceted intervention targeting recipients (monetary incentives), providers (quality assurance) and health system (provision of equipment, drugs and materials).

These studies show that health education (moderate-quality evidence) and home visits (low-quality evidence) can increase childhood vaccination coverage (Table 1), while recipient disincentives, training immunisation managers to provide supportive supervision, or multifaceted intervention lead to little or no difference in coverage (low-quality evidence).

This is a well-conducted systematic review with only minor limitations. We consider that there was a high risk of selection bias in one of the included studies, because participants were not allocated to interventions at random. Two other studies were judged to have a high risk of detection bias, because people assessing outcomes were aware of the interventions to which participants were allocated.

Review authors excluded parental reminders, as these interventions were already covered by an existing Cochrane review.[6] The latter conducted comprehensive searches up to May 2007 for controlled trials conducted in any setting, and identified 47 studies. Sixteen of the studies focused on reminders to parents about their children's routine vaccinations. One study was excluded from meta-analysis owing to potential errors in analysis. Of 15 remaining studies (with 15 704 participants), 14 were conducted in the USA and one in Australia. Eight studies sent reminders through letters and seven used postcards, telephone calls, and home visits. This review found that reminders probably increase vaccination coverage (odds ratio 1.47, 95% confidence interval 1.28 - 1.68; moderate-quality evidence).[6]

 

Conclusion

The evidence shows that educating parents on the benefits of vaccinating their children, sending reminders to parents prior to planned vaccination visits, and contacting parents whose children have missed vaccination appointments all improve childhood vaccination coverage. However, there is a paucity of controlled trials from LMICs on interventions for improving childhood vaccination coverage. Future studies of parental reminders should include modern technologies such as mobile-phone text-messages.[7]

 

References

1. World Health Organization. Global immunization coverage in 2014. http://www.who.int/immunization/monitoring_surveillance/Globd_Immunization_Data.pdf?ua=1 (accessed 6 October 2015).         [ Links ]

2. Machingaidze S, Wiysonge CS, Hussey GD. Strengthening the Expanded Programme on Immunization in Africa - looking beyond 2015. PLoS Med 2013;10(3):e1001405. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001405]        [ Links ]

3. Wiysonge CS, Ngcobo NJ, Jeena PM, et al. Advances in childhood immunisation in South Africa -where to now? Programme managers' views and evidence from systematic reviews. BMC Public Health 2012;12:578. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-12-578]        [ Links ]

4. Oyo-Ita A, Nwachukwu CE, Oringanje C, Meremikwu MM. Interventions for improving coverage of child immunization in low- and middle-income countries. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2011, Issue 7. Art. No. CD008145. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd008145.pub2]        [ Links ]

5. Abdullahi LH, Kagina BMN, Wiysonge CS, Hussey GD. Improving vaccination uptake among adolescents. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015, Issue 9. Art. No. CD011895. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd011895]        [ Links ]

6. Jacobson Vann JC, Szilagyi P. Patient reminder and patient recall systems for improving immunization rates. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2005, Issue 3. Art. No. CD003941.         [ Links ]

7. Kalan R, Wiysonge CS, Ramafuthole T, et al. Mobile phone text messaging for improving the uptake of vaccinations: A systematic review protocol. BMJ Open 2014;4:e005130. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005130]        [ Links ]

 

 

Correspondence:
C S Wiysonge
charlesw@sun.ac.za

Accepted 7 October 2015.

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