Homeopath Edel Bolger O’Hora
I wrote this article for me to gain insight into the organisations that influence our country’s health strategy in relation to the Covid Vaccine Programme. I want to understand the challenges that are present for us all in the strategic and equitable distribution of vaccine resources for the Covid Programme. I have been listening to the WHO newsbite on Linkedin with interest on how the subscribing nations/organisations to Who are embracing this Pandemic.
Public health is the science of protecting and improving the health of people and their communities. This work is achieved by promoting healthy lifestyles, researching disease and injury prevention, and detecting, preventing and responding to infectious diseases. Overall, public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations.
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It was inagurated following the second world war on 7 April 1948 – a date now celebrated as World Health Day. The organization grew out the International Sanitary Conferences, which convened between 1851 and 1938 to combat diseases such as cholera, yellow fever and bubonic plague. Its self-proclaimed mission is the “attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health”.
It performs a multitude of roles globally, including advocating for universal healthcare, monitoring public health risks, setting health standards and guidelines, coordinating international responses to health emergencies, fighting infectious diseases like HIV and tuberculosis, and promoting better nutrition, housing and sanitation in the name of overall well-being. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, it employs 7,000 staff across six regional offices and 150 field offices, at the head of whom stands Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the former health minister of Ethiopia, who began his five-year term as Director-General in 2017.
Since its inception, the WHO has scored some notable public health successes, including the reduction of TB and measles through mass vaccination programmes and the near-eradication of polio. Its finest hour was the battle against smallpox: in 1958, when the organization launched its global initiative, 2 million were dying of the disease every year, but by 1979 the WHO was able to announce that smallpox had been eliminated – the first that humanity had completely overcome through its own efforts.
COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. Developing a vaccine against COVID-19 is the most pressing challenge of our time - and nobody wins the race until everyone wins.
The global pandemic has already caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and disrupted the lives of billions more. As well as reducing the tragic loss of life and helping to get the pandemic under control, introduction of a vaccine will prevent the loss of US$ 375 billion to the global economy every month. Global equitable access to a vaccine, particularly protecting health care workers and those most-at-risk is the only way to mitigate the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.
What Covax offers
In view of the ability of the countries to deliver vaccine to 20% of the population then not everyone will get or need to be vaccinated. It is my view that the first world countries will need to examine themselves for the race to be vaccinated first? The challenge to the population now is that the allocation of a limited supply of vaccine calls for a fine balance between utility and equality and fairness. Accountability demands that decision-making be explicit, documented and open to public review. I do not see this message given by our public representatives or the media in general. Yet, I have been listening to these concerns on my Linkedin WHO streaming weekly delivered as soon as they are available
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