Trends in the types and quality of childhood immunisations research output from Africa 1970–2010: mapping the evidence base
1 Vaccines for Africa Initiative (VACFA), Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine (IDM), University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
2 Division of Medical Microbiology, Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
3 Centre for Evidence-based Health Care, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa
4 Division of Community Health, Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa
BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:52 doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-52Published: 4 February 2014
Over the past four decades, extraordinary progress has been made in establishing and improving childhood immunization programmes around Africa. In order to ensure effective and sustainable positive growth of these childhood immunisations programmes, the development, adaptation and implementation of all interventions (programme activities, new vaccines, new strategies and policies) should be informed by the best available local evidence.
An assessment of the peer-reviewed literature on childhood immunization research published in English from 1970 to 2010 was conducted in PubMed and Africa-Wide databases. All study types were eligible for inclusion. A standard form was used to extract information from all studies identified as relevant and entered into a Microsoft Access database for analysis.
Our initial search yielded 5436 articles from the two databases, from which 848 full text articles were identified as relevant. Among studies classified as clinical research (417), 40% were clinical trials, 24% were burden of disease/epidemiology and 36% were other clinical studies. Among studies classified as operational research (431), 77% related to programme management, 18% were policy related and 5% were related to vaccine financing. Studies were conducted in 48 African countries with six countries (South Africa, The Gambia, Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Kenya) accounting for 56% of the total research output. Studies were published in 152 different journals with impact factors ranging from 0.192 to 53.29; with a median impact factor of 3.572.
A similar proportion of clinical versus operational research output was found. However, an uneven distribution across Africa was observed with only six countries accounting for over half of the research output. The research conducted was of moderate to high quality, with 62% being published in journals with 2010 impact factors greater than two. Urgent attention should be given to the development of research capacity in low performing countries around Africa, with increased focus on the process of turning immunisations programme research evidence into policy and practice, as well as increased focus on issues relating to vaccine financing and sustainability in Africa.