Diana Kizza, a Health Economist, is the Sustainable Immunization Financing Program (SIF) Senior Program Officer for the Sabin Vaccine Institute program in the Eastern African countries of Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. A former Overseas Development Institute (ODI) fellow in the Rwanda Ministry of Health, she holds an MSc in Health Economics from the University of York, UK and a BSc degree in Quantitative Economics from Makerere University, Kampala.
Over the past years, these three countries have experienced remarkable economic growth and improvements in both their public financial management and governance structures. These factors have encouraged their health programs to be better supported than many of their post conflict neighbors. A lot of the structural adjustments in these countries have been donor driven as opposed to country led initiatives, in effort to ensure that the countries secured much needed foreign funding.
Realizing that it is not viable to depend on external sources of funding, these three nations are slowly trying to reverse some of the current donor dependency practices to encourage greater national ownership and better practices with development partners. This, among other factors, makes the timing suitable for advocacy for sustainable health financing, particularly for immunization, which is one of the most cost effective, preventative health initiative.
The challenge with immunization financing advocacy lies in part with the success of the programs in reducing mortality due to communicable, immunization-preventable diseases (i.e. these diseases are no longer as common). Despite remarkable progress, the cost of vaccines is increasing with the introduction of new vaccines; moreover, population growth rates realize high numbers of children born each year, necessitating an increase of immunization budgets or a reduction in costs of vaccines. The concern lies in the fact that a larger proportion of the current vaccine funds is obtained from development partners.
Diana Kizza has been concerting SIF’s efforts with other stakeholders, advocating for sustainable health financing; this includes participation and involvement from members of: Parliament, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, the Private Sector, Civil Society Organizations and the Media in these countries. The goal is to promote collective action to ensure sustainable immunization financing for these three nations.
SIF provides a neutral platform for these institutions to come together and through dialogue, share challenges across institutions in hopes of implementing a sustainable immunization program.