In June of 2018, possibly the largest ever gathering of the immunization community took place in Kigali, Rwanda, co-hosted by WHO and UNICEF. From 26 to 28 June, the Global Immunization Meeting (GIM) was attended by over 200 participants representing key immunization stakeholders and partners at global, regional, and country levels.
Unlike past GIMs that covered key issues related to routine immunization strengthening, the implementation of new and under-utilized vaccines, and accelerated disease control efforts, the 2018 theme of the GIM was Navigating Transitions. This provided an opportunity to work toward a common understanding of current changes such as Gavi transition and polio transition, and to explore new directions for action as the Global Vaccine Action Plan comes to a close in 2020.
The meeting objectives were to:
- Update global, regional, and country-level partners on key successes and challenges in immunization related to polio and Gavi transition
- Provide a forum for formal and informal exchange of new ideas and innovations
- Identify partner and country visions to achieve immunization programme goals after 2020.
The meeting consisted of a mix of multiple interactive session formats, providing many opportunities to engage and explore diverse aspects of immunization. The morning plenary sessions were dynamic and designed to challenge assumptions and bring new knowledge, and afternoon workshop sessions to provide an opportunity to explore technical topics in detail. Short sessions also took place to introduce new content areas and to share the latest updates on key themes. Lastly, a range of special sessions, including debates and ‘breakfast with an expert’ offered the occasion to dive into specific ‘hot’ topics. For staying up-to-date on all of the action, a meeting app equipped all participants with the agenda, notifications, and an activity tracker for sharing alerts and photos.
With the excellent quality of content across the board, attendees participated actively throughout the meeting. It would be impossible to pin-point any specific sessions in particular, however it should be noted that the plenary presentations were particularly thought-provoking. Prof. Helen Rees kicked off the meeting with a compelling presentation on the global shifts affecting the future of immunization, and day 2 featured Ola and Anna Rosling challenging our preconceptions about demographics, demonstrating that we’re not always right (apparently!), and why trends in global health are actually better than we think.