On World Health Day, USA for UNHCR Executive Director and CEO Anne-Marie Grey and South Sudanese refugee Mary Maker reflect on the three imperatives to ensure equitable vaccine access for refugees and other vulnerable populations: including refugees in national vaccination plans, fully funding COVAX and empowering local health care workers and systems.
For the past year, health has been front and center for all of us as we have battled with COVID-19 and the subsequent tragedy it has brought. With nearly 3 million COVID-19 deaths and a devastated global economy, feelings of anxiety, fear, and loneliness continue to run high.
We are thankful that on this World Health Day — just over one year since the pandemic was declared — there are signs of hope. We know how to protect ourselves from the virus, and multiple vaccines, produced in record time, are being rolled out. Never before have so many lives, livelihoods, and economies depend on a single health intervention. If we fully return to the way people used to live, work, and travel in a pre-pandemic world without widespread administration of a vaccine, we will quite possibly see an unrelenting progression of COVID-19.
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