The IAIM Network and PATH present: what works to improve the use of immunization data?

PATH's Laurie Werner and Allison Osterman discuss The Immunization Data: Evidence for Action (IDEA) review which identifies five proven strategies to improve data use and outlines how these best practices can be used to improve the efficacy of state, regional and national immunization programs.

While advances in information technology have led to continuous increases in the amount of health data available, data remain an underutilized resource in the design and implementation of immunization programs throughout the world.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and PATH have launched a new Immunization Data: Evidence for Action (IDEA) report, A Realist Review of What Works to Improve Data Use for Immunization: Evidence from low-and middle-income countries. It provides the immunization community with five, clear and proven strategies for improving the quality and use of immunization data. In addition, it outlines how funders, policymakers, and program implementers can incorporate these best practices to improve the efficacy of state, regional, and national immunization programs.

Strategies that address barriers to immunization should be:

  • Interconnected and mutually reinforcing;
  • The more data is used, the more likely its quality will improve;
  • Data should be an integral part of health decision-making;
  • Digital information systems should be utilized to provide high-quality data to decision makers in real time; and
  • The use of digital systems should be phased to ensure that the proper infrastructure is in place to manage them.

PAHO and PATH conducted a realist review of published and non-published literature to identify these findings. This approach allowed the use of multiple types of evidence, such as experimental and nonexperimental study designs, grey literature, project evaluations, and reports. A majority of the 549 pieces of evidence reviewed was non-peer-reviewed literature, which provided important learnings that more traditional systematic reviews would overlook.

The IDEA review was supported by a steering committee which includes global and regional senior leaders in the areas of immunization, data quality, and use from World Health Organization; US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; United Nations Children's Fund; Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. As well as country representatives from both the BID Learning Network and the Improving Data Quality for Immunizations project. For more information on IDEA visit:

Are you wondering what your program could do to better use data for decision-making? Take a look at this checklist for implementers on actions to support data use.


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