Health Officials In St. Lucia Attend ESAVI Workshop

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In November, health officials in Saint Lucia participated in a health surveillance system rapid assessment exercise, through a one-day workshop. The workshop is one of many, held within the region, as PAHO continues to monitor adverse events that may occur following immunization. The session will serve to enhance surveillance of the region’s vaccination systems.

Renold Hewitt, Country Programme Specialist of the Pan-American Health Organization.

According to PAHO, “one of the essential components of the safe vaccination system is the surveillance of events supposedly attributable to vaccination or immunization, more commonly known as ESAVI. The ESAVI surveillance is aimed at early detection of any adverse events that may occur following immunization, in order to monitor and classify risks related to a vaccine, the manufacturing process, transportation, storage, administration, and any preexisting condition in the vaccinated person, and to rule out an association between the event and the vaccine.”

In November, a PAHO Consultant visited Saint Lucia to facilitate an ESAVI and health surveillance system rapid assessment exercise and the development of a surveillance manual, through a one-day critical pathways workshop for officials and staff of the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar-George said the training is timely, as the region battles to regain confidence in immunization.

“One of the areas that this workshop and this rapid assessment exercise is going to assist in, would be to identify the gaps and strengthen our capacity to observe events that are supposedly attributed to vaccines and immunization. One of the areas which I think will definitely help is for us to work on the confidence of the public, on parents, in our capacity to monitor the effects, side effects or anything related to the vaccines that may come up.”

Permanent Secretary, Jenny Daniel said the development of the ESAVI surveillance manual is also expected to guide policy for effective immunization in a country, as well as implement a high-quality surveillance system.

“The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs and the expanded program on immunization thanks the Pan American Health Organization for the joint partnership, and its support in launching an ESAVI manual for Saint Lucia. It is evident the importance of this manual and therefore the importance of this workshop starting here today. I do hope that we speak and bring about the discussion points that would lead us to establishing this critical manual as we go forward with our vaccination program.”

Country Program Specialist, Mr. Renold Hewitt expressed PAHO’s continued commitment to ensuring proper monitoring of vaccine events.

“To ensure that vaccine related events are monitored, PAHO trained approximately 25 health care workers on events supposedly attributable to vaccine or immunization. They went through several exercises including the surveillance system and gaps in the surveillance system.”

The ESVAI manual will provide a comprehensive and technical review of all processes and procedures for applying and implementing a high quality ESAVI surveillance system in the region. The manual is expected to bring together the knowledge of vaccine safety specialists and other experts within the region and from around the world. The session was held at the Coco Palm Resort, in a blended format, and was facilitated by PAHO Consultants Mr. Akil Williams and Mr. Kerne Rocke.

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