Saurabh Aggarwal, Sr Manager, Community Systems Foundation
In 2021, CSF initiated collaboration with UNICEF HQ immunization section towards the development of the NIS.Cost costing application.
The NIS.Cost application aims to provide national health officials with a framework to build a structured National Immunization Strategy. The application allows for the costing of Activities identified under the National Immunization Strategy. This collaborative work is led by immunization sector specialists from the Government and implementing and donor partners tasked with developing the NIS Strategy and determining a cost to implement the strategy. The application is also used to project costs over the duration of the strategy - typically five years - with approved budgets of prior years. The application also has a detailed funding module that identifies and captures data on the funding sources for key activities.
CSF developed the app in Google Sheets, specifically leveraging Google Apps Scripts and the power and possibility of online, collaborative documents. The NIS.COST application has now been used in more than 20 countries. In each case, country experiences have validated the application and provided vital reflection on input on the approach and methodology underpinning the application, as well as practical suggestions to improve the software.
As part of its commitment to UNICEF, CSF has provided numerous virtual and face-to-face training, as well as ongoing support and maintenance and the continued enhancement of NIS.Cost Application.
In 2022, through two regional workshops, 39 country teams were trained in the use of NIS.Cost application. The first regional workshop was conducted in Benin and the second in Pretoria.
The application interface has been translated into different languages, as a fundamental step in contextualization, a key approach underlying the development of the application. The tool allows for setting priorities of activities (High, Medium, or Low), which has highlighted a common sector challenge. Data has shown that almost all activities are identified as high-priority.
Ongoing country implementations are helping generate important insights into areas of continued enhancement. Prominent amongst them include connecting 1) NIS.Cost to the GAVI Vaccine Alliance Full Procurement Planning (GAVI FPP) tool, which will immensely help the countries in their reporting requirements to GAVI, 2) data collected under the NIS.Cost to the country's annual operational plan for vaccination. CSF is also deliberating with UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) on how the NIS.Cost application can assist in tracking the entire NIS process.
The future for NIS.Cost looks exciting as CSF plans for the next version of the application, which may be a fully web-based application.