Emergencies preparedness, response

International Coordinating Group (ICG) on vaccine provision for meningitis

CED/O. Ronveaux

The ICG on Vaccine Provision for Epidemic Meningitis Control was established in January 1997, following major outbreaks of meningitis in Africa. The ICG manages security stocks of vaccines, injection materials and antibiotics for emergency use. Working closely with vaccine producers and following regional epidemiological trends, the ICG monitors its security stock levels to ensure they are sufficient to respond to meningitis outbreaks for each epidemic season. From 2009 to 2016, 20 million doses of vaccines were shipped for emergency response in 13 countries.

The ICG also improves the coordination of epidemic preparedness and response by providing a forum for technical discussions among partners. Additional issues addressed by the ICG and its networks include the forecasting of epidemics, the evaluation of interventions, negotiation of vaccine prices, and the evaluation of standard protocols for case management.

Membership

In addition to the four members (MSF, IFRC, UNICEF and WHO), additional expertise and technical advice is provided by a range of partners including the Agence de Médecine Preventive in Paris, Epicentre in Paris and three WHO Collaborating Centres on Meningococci (Oslo, Marseille, and US CDC). Vaccine manufacturers, vaccine equipment providers and financial donor institutions are also engaged in the ICG operations.

Accessing ICG vaccine stocks

Although established to deal primarily with the frequent and large scale epidemics in the African ‘meningitis belt’, any country fulfilling the ICG criteria can access the stock when faced with an epidemic.

To request access to ICG stocks, national health authorities should submit an application form to the ICG Secretariat (WHO Geneva), or to an ICG member agency (IRFC, MSF, UNICEF) present in the country. Requests are evaluated through a rapid consultation process taking into account the epidemiological situation, vaccination strategy, pre-existing stocks in the country and operational aspects of the epidemic response. Countries are informed of an ICG decision within 48 hours.

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