“As we embark on this great collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind’’ (United Nations General Assembly, 2015). This pledge was made by the United Nations General Assembly as part of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all UN countries in 2015 for a fifteen-year period between 2016 and 2030. The goals, which replaced the existing Millennium Development Goals, is a call by UN countries ‘to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030’ (United Nations Development Programme). Sustainable Development Goal 3 is to ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’. SDG 3 aims for the improvement of health and wellbeing for all, at every stage of life. The goal promotes the prioritisation of all health aspects including communicable and non-communicable diseases, child health, reproductive health, universal health coverage and access for all to safe, effective, quality and affordable medicines and vaccines.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is impacting everyone across the globe, including all in developed and developing countries. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), at the end of August 2021, there has been over 213 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, including almost 4.5 million deaths attributed to Covid-19. Vaccinations against Covid-19, which were approved for use towards the end of 2020 have proven to offer populations protection against infection and also significantly reduce the numbers of people who become seriously ill, or even die from Covid-19.
According to the WHO, nearly 5 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally. In Ireland, at the end of August 2021, almost 7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines were administered, which means that over 85% of the population over the age of 16 were fully vaccinated. Ireland really has been the envy of Europe and developed countries with the fantastic vaccination uptake by the population.
While there is a large supply of vaccines available to developed countries around the world, there is a slower vaccination rollout in low- and middle-income countries which leads to vaccine inequity. The provision of vaccines in developing countries proves to be a significant financial burden on these nations. The increase of healthcare expenditure in low-income countries would need to increase by approx. 57% to allow for the vaccination of 70% of their population.
WHO’s Dr. Mike Ryan stated the following in relation to global vaccine inequity; ‘’Let me be plain and honest, half the world think this pandemic is over and half the world is about to go over another cliff edge.’’ There are enough doses of vaccines globally to decrease the transmission of Covid-19 and save many lives, but they must be available globally in order to stop the pandemic.
As part of this year’s World Environmental Health Day, which is 26th September 2021, the Environmental Health Association of Ireland is looking for members and branches to support UNICEF’s campaign in relation to vaccine availability in developing countries. UNICEF’s campaign of ‘Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine’ (www.unicef.ie/donate/covax/#1) supports the global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, specifically to 92 low and middle-income countries. We are calling on all members, family and friends to support this campaign and come together to support global vaccine equity. Your donations to this campaign can assist UNICEF in the procurement and transportation of vaccines throughout the world, to ensure that all vaccines are stored correctly and safely, to help manage in-country logistics so they can reach the most remote places, to ensure health and community workers are trained in administrating the vaccines and to engage with communities to provide reliable information about the vaccines.
We have set up the below JustGiving account for members and branches to donate directly to UNICEF Ireland. According to the Charity a donation of €50 can help deliver enough vaccines to protect 10 people from COVID-19 so vaccines for one person can cost as little as €5.
We will communicate further details here, on our social media pages and to branches regarding our campaign for World Environmental Health Day which will benefit UNICEF’s campaign of ‘Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine.