News @ JSI

JSI to Expand Universal Immunization Efforts in Ethiopia

April 14, 2015

JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a five-year, $20 million expansion of the Universal Immunization through Improving Family Health Services (UI-FHS) project.

In 2011, JSI was awarded the UI-FHS project as a learning grant to develop evidence on whether and how the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health should pursue nationwide universal child immunization in Ethiopia, integrated with family health approaches, and what it would take to do so effectively. Building on the evidence developed in three initial woredas (districts) over the past three-and-a-half years, JSI received this extension to expand its work into 128 woredas in six regions of Ethiopia—Afar, Benishangul Gumuz, Gambella, SNNP, Somali, and Tigray—over the next five years.

In this next phase of the project, JSI will greatly expand the implementation of the “Reaching Every District using Quality Improvement” (RED-QI) approach that it designed and introduced through UI-FHS in the initial three woredas, solidifying lessons learned in using and optimizing the approach to strengthen routine immunization systems implementation.

The “RED-QI” approach is a process that helps health personnel to address large, complex, priority problems such as persistently high drop-out rates by identifying root causes and using small, rapid, doable changes that can quickly be tested and vetted for adoption, adaption, or abandonment at local level. UI-FHS builds capacity of woreda health officers to provide long-term, affordable technical and managerial support to their health workers, helps to operationalize the RED-QI approach in the woredas where it works, and encourages staff at even the most peripheral levels to develop, test, and share successful local solutions.

While UI-FHS focuses on routine immunization strengthening, the RED-QI processes can be applied to other family health service interventions. This approach supports the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health’s concerted efforts to strengthen not only routine immunization, but the overall delivery of family health services.

The UI-FHS project also provides opportunities to gather evidence on the effectiveness of RED-QI and how it operates under a range of circumstances. This learning will be augmented through coordination with the Gates-supported Stronger Systems for Routine Immunization (SS4RI) project in Uganda. SS4RI, also managed by JSI, implements a similar approach to REC-QI and already a program of cross-learning between the projects in the two countries is in place. This will be continued over the next five years and will accelerate the learning on how routine immunization systems capable of reaching all women and children can be built in a sustainable way.

Learn more about JSI's work in routine immunization services.