While many NITAGs have recently been established in GAVI-eligible and middle-income countries, some of these committees do not function effectively, or should be improved to function better with more compliance with the WHO guidelines.
In response, SIVAC aims to assist in the strengthening of NITAGs. Support is tailored to meet local needs and is determined in a country-driven process. The methodology used is similar to that for supporting NITAG creation.
First, a small team of local experts is asked to develop a concept paper. For this purpose, members of the NITAG, health partners, and national health authorities hold a workshop to discuss committee organization and needs.
The concept paper describes existing immunization programs, decision-making processes, and the roles and responsibilities of NITAGS and other institutions and committees. Other issues such as immunization decisions to be taken in the near future are also highlighted. Finally, the paper compares the current functioning of the NITAG to the ideal functioning, as described by WHO guidelines, and identifies areas to strengthen.
SIVAC provides different types of technical support based on the country-specific information provided in the concept paper. This involves helping NITAGs throughout the entire process of making evidence-based recommendations that are relevant to the national context. The end goal is to empower NITAGs to make specific recommendations using this decision-making process on their own. Other types of support are provided to address specific points to be strengthened (again, on the basis of the concept paper findings).
Support for NITAG strengthening typically lasts about one year (following finalization of the work plan).