Journal Article

World Health Organization's Innovative Direct Disbursement Mechanism for Payment of Grassroots Immunization Personnel and Operations in Nigeria: 2004–2015

Yared G. Yehualashet, Alieu Wadda, Koffi B. Agblewonu, Theophilus Zhema, Al-asi A. Ibrahim, Alhagie Corr, Jennifer Linkins, Pascal Mkanda, Rui G. Vaz, Peter Nsubuga and Daniel Ashogbon

in The Journal of Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 213, issue suppl_3, pages S108-S115
Published in print May 2016 | ISSN: 0022-1899
Published online April 2016 | e-ISSN: 1537-6613 | DOI:

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  • Infectious Diseases
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Background. Following the 1988 World Health Assembly resolution to eradicate polio, the government of Nigeria, with support from partners, has been implementing several rounds of supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) each year. In addition to the technical requirements, the success of the polio eradication initiative depends on timely provision of adequate financial resources. Disbursement of funds for SIAs and payment of allowances to numerous vaccination personnel at the grassroots level are enormous operational challenges in a country the size of Nigeria. Upon donors' request for a transparent and effective payment mechanism, the World Health Organization (WHO), in consultation with national counterparts, created the innovative direct disbursement mechanism (DDM) in 2004. The objective of the DDM was to timely deploy operational funds at the field level and directly pay vaccination personnel allowances at the grassroots level.

Methods. A detailed operational guideline for funds disbursement was developed in close consultation with central and field stakeholders. Multiyear financial resource requirements and operational budgets for every campaign were produced by an interagency-coordinated finance subcommittee. The WHO engaged a bank and an accounting firm as DDM partners to support disbursement of and accounting for the SIA funds, respectively. The 37 WHO field offices were equipped with electronic financial systems to support the DDM process, and temporary payment sites were set up to facilitate payment to vaccination personnel at the grassroots level. Coordination meetings among DDM partners were held regularly to reconcile financial records and address operational challenges.

Results. Between 2004 and 2014, DDM supported 99 polio and nonpolio vaccination campaigns, disbursing more than $370 million to about 16 million beneficiaries across 280 temporary payment sites. To mitigate security risks and reduce operational costs, the WHO and DDM partners introduced mobile payment to vaccination personnel in May 2015 in compliance with national regulations. A total of 97% of the targeted 1871 beneficiaries in 2 pilot sites were successfully paid through mobile payment, although some challenges remain to be addressed.

Discussion. The DDM has met its objectives with a high rate of financial accountability and transparency, despite persistent operational and security challenges. With support from Nigeria, the Pakistan polio vaccination program successfully adopted the DDM. The DDM continues to play an important role in effective implementation of the polio endgame strategy and the national immunization strategic plan. As part of polio legacy planning, we recommend the DDM as a model for other opportunities that involve the engagement of large field-level teams as new vaccines are introduced in Nigeria and elsewhere.

Keywords: direct disbursement mechanism; supplementary immunization activities; vaccination personnel payments; mobile payment; WHO Nigeria; polio funds management

Journal Article.  3808 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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