The importance of engaging policy-makers at the outset to guide research on and introduction of vaccines: the use of policy-maker surveys.J Health Popul Nutr. 2004 Sep; 22(3):322-30.JH
Face-to-face surveys of policy-makers and other influential leaders are a useful tool to identify, at an early stage, (a) major issues regarding the introduction of a new vaccine, (b) persons and groups in a country who play a major decision-making or influential role in the introduction of vaccines, (c) potential obstacles to the introduction of vaccines, and (d) data-needs of policy-makers to overcome these obstacles. By surveying the opinions and beliefs of those who will make or influence decisions on whether to introduce a new vaccine, these studies can help ensure that research activities respond to the needs of policy-makers in countries endemic for the target diseases. These surveys can also inform vaccine-introduction strategies by identifying financially and politically feasible means of distributing, targeting, and financing the vaccines. This paper describes the methodology used in conducting such surveys and discusses methodological issues. It also presents lessons learnt from two policy-maker surveys carried out in several Asian countries in regard to new-generation vaccines against cholera, typhoid fever, and shigellosis; and future vaccines against dengue fever/dengue haemorrhagic fever.