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Updating the evidence base on the operational costs of supplementary immunization activities for current and future accelerated disease control, elimination and eradication efforts


To achieve globally or regionally defined accelerated disease control, elimination and eradication (ADC/E/E) goals against vaccine-preventable diseases requires complementing national routine immunization programs with intensive, time-limited, and targeted Supplementary Immunization Activities (SIAs). Many global and country-level SIA costing efforts have historically relied on what are now outdated benchmark figures. Mobilizing adequate resources for successful implementation of SIAs requires updated estimates of non-vaccine costs per target population.This assessment updates the evidence base on the SIA operational costs through a review of literature between 1992 and 2012, and an analysis of actual expenditures from 142 SIAs conducted between 2004 and 2011 and documented in country immunization plans. These are complemented with an analysis of budgets from 31 SIAs conducted between 2006 and 2011 in order to assess the proportion of total SIA costs per person associated with various cost components. All results are presented in 2010 US dollars.Existing evidence indicate that average SIA operational costs were usually less than US$0.50 per person in 2010 dollars. However, the evidence is sparse, non-standardized, and largely out of date. Average operational costs per person generated from our analysis of country immunization plans are consistently higher than published estimates, approaching US$1.00 for injectable vaccines. The results illustrate that the benchmarks often used to project needs underestimate the true costs of SIAs and the analysis suggests that SIA operational costs have been increasing over time in real terms. Our assessment also illustrates that operational costs vary across several dimensions. Variations in the actual costs of SIAs likely to reflect the extents to which economies of scale associated with campaign-based delivery can be attained, the underlying strength of the immunization program, sensitivities to the relative ease of vaccine administration (i.e. orally, or by injection), and differences in disease-specific programmatic approaches. The assessment of SIA budgets by cost component illustrates that four cost drivers make up the largest proportion of costs across all vaccines: human resources, program management, social mobilization, and vehicles and transportation. These findings suggest that SIAs leverage existing health system infrastructure, reinforcing the fact that strong routine immunization programs are an important pre-requisite for achieving ADC/E/E goals.The results presented here will be useful for national and global-level actors involved in planning, budgeting, resource mobilization, and financing of SIAs in order to create more realistic assessments of resource requirements for both existing ADC/E/E efforts as well as for new vaccines that may deploy a catch-up campaign-based delivery component. However, limitations of our analysis suggest a need to conduct further research into operational costs of SIAs. Understanding the changing face of delivery costs and cost structures for SIAs will continue to be critical to avoid funding gaps and in order to improve vaccination coverage, reduce health inequities, and achieve the ADC/E/E goals many of which have been endorsed by the World Health Assembly and are included in the Decade of Vaccines Global Vaccine Action Plan.