COVID-19: LWF and partners advocate for equitable vaccine access

Ganta, Liberia: Antee Baar, a nursing school student training at the United Methodist University campus, practices filling up a syringe. Located in Nimba county, the Ganta United Methodist Hospital serves tens of thousands of patients each year. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert
Ganta, Liberia: Antee Baar, a nursing school student training at the United Methodist University campus, practices filling up a syringe. Located in Nimba county, the Ganta United Methodist Hospital serves tens of thousands of patients each year. Photo: LWF/Albin Hillert

Vaccine equity essential to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic 

(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in collaboration with Oxfam and 12 other partners are advocating to ensure refugees and displaced persons have access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The pandemic has disproportionately affected marginalized communities including women and girls, internally displaced people (IDP) and middle to low-income communities worldwide. While these populations are more vulnerable to exposure, it is also disconcerting that they have been largely left out of Covid-19 vaccine distribution.

The LWF and its partners are recommending concrete measures to assist governments, authorities, UN agencies, and humanitarian actors in proactively addressing the spread of the virus by improving access to vaccination and health services.

A recently launched briefing paper titled “A People’s Vaccine for Refugees” notes that “85% of refugees are hosted in lower- and middle-income countries, while in the first six months of this year 85% of vaccines went to wealthy countries.” Consequently, there is a demonstrable divide that can only be addressed by implementing intentional measures to reach those who may seem out of reach.

“For those in crowded camps where self-isolation is not possible and where health facilities are basic at best, vaccinations are critical. To do this, host countries must get enough vaccines. This is the very first step” commented Chey Mattner, Head of Operations for LWF World Service. “The host communities which support refugees are often equally marginalized because of rural-urban divides in certain countries” he added. "Identifying and addressing the exclusion of refugees and host communities provides a holistic response."

Recommendations in the briefing paper include supporting and funding vaccine equity, a call on governments in host countries to actively include all populations and address the needs of other vulnerable groups such as women and people with disabilities.

The LWF and its partners continue to encourage the international community to multiply efforts that ensure vaccine equity across the globe so that no one is left behind.

By LWF/T. Rakoto 

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