UNICEF chief urges world to help India ‘now’ as Covid cases soar
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore told CNBC she was “very concerned” about the current Covid-19 crisis in India and urged the world to send urgent aid to the country.
Speaking during World Immunization Week, Fore also said it was a “race to save lives” through immunization, especially in some of the world’s poorest countries with “very fragile” health systems.
India is in the midst of a deadly second wave of the virus. On Saturday, daily coronavirus cases in the country surpassed 400,000 for the first time; the total number of cases in India has now exceeded 19 million, and more than 215,000 people have died from Covid in the country.
“This is worrying for several reasons. First, is it a precursor to what might happen in other countries, especially countries in Africa, with much weaker health systems?” Fore said last week.
“It’s concerning because their healthcare system has been overwhelmed. It’s the need for oxygen and therapeutics that we just haven’t seen in this pandemic in another country on this scale.”
People wearing face masks wait to receive a vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a vaccination center in Mumbai, India on April 26, 2021.
Niharika Kulkarni | Reuters
Fore said UNICEF and the COVAX Global Immunization Program have sent aid to the country and help from other countries is making a big difference. “But that’s not enough because India is part of our supply chain. So that’s where we buy most of the vaccines, it’s also where we need to help out. as a world to India now, ”she added.
UNICEF is the United Nations agency responsible for providing aid to children around the world.
One of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic is that the world has stopped paying attention to other routine vaccinations, Fore warned. Around sixty routine immunization campaigns have been halted around the world, with countries focusing on combating the pandemic.
To address these challenges – while continuing to help end the global pandemic – the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and other partners are supporting a global strategy known as of Immunization Program 2030. The initiative aims to save 50 million people. lives on thanks to “an ambitious new global strategy to maximize the life-saving impact of vaccines through stronger immunization systems.”
Fore said about half of the world’s vaccinations result from the routine immunization of children by UNICEF.
“Polio, measles, yellow fever… these are all vaccines that children need, but they are also vaccines that adults need. So we are asking families to go to primary health clinics in their own communities, to bring their children, to get vaccinated against these childhood diseases, also receive a Covid vaccine, and we can save 50 million lives ”, she declared.
When asked if she had a message for world leaders today, Fore replied, “Well help us now.”
Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, on July 5, 2018 in BERLIN, GERMANY.
Ute Grabowsky / Photothek via Getty Images
“We are worried that the world is not paying attention to things like routine vaccinations. We cannot lose this population, our children, to an epidemic while we are concerned about Covid as a pandemic for our world, so please help us now, ”she added.
Despite the ongoing global pandemic, Fore said now is the time to focus on such initiatives.
“People now realize that vaccines are important, that vaccines work, that they save lives, and right now we are in a race to save lives,” she said.
“So if we can save them through a routine immunization program, reaching everyone in a society, it will help both routine vaccinations and it will help Covid.”
However, Fore told CNBC it can be difficult to focus global investments on program support.
“Under the Covax facility, there was a call for $ 23 billion, which seems like a huge sum, but really when you look at the global GDP and what’s available in the world, it’s a very small number, ”she said.
“So you realize that as a world we could afford that, and if we could distribute vaccines to children and adults in the years to come, we would be a world with more equity, more justice, more health at all levels. “