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Cordaid NL
Health care

Vaccines for the Happy Few = Health for None

Health is not just a human right, it is a prerequisite for development. Through its advocacy programme Global Health, Global Access, Cordaid continually stresses the importance of Health for All. During the current pandemic, we are calling for even more political support in the Netherlands for global health, with specific attention to the pivotal role of Gavi, the international alliance working on better access to life-saving vaccines.

In Syrian refugee camps, health workers are educating people about the prevention of COVID-19. Image: SARD/Caritas Luxembourg

It has already been months since COVID-19 became a significant global threat and it looks like the virus is here to stay. At least for another while. Time and again, politicians, medical professionals and economic experts emphasise that only global solidarity and strong health systems all around the world can effectively prevent and deal with a health disaster like this one.

Health care from a systems perspective

That is why we should look at health care from a systems perspective. A strong health system is not just about one or two particular services. It is about strengthening the entire system, from skilled health personnel to the availability of vaccines against infectious diseases. Only when all vital factors are in place, can a health system deal with any issue, regardless of its complexity.

Health care from a global perspective

In this globalised world, we also need to look at health care from a global perspective. This is key to ensure health security. For example, if an infectious disease like COVID-19 breaks out, any country should have the means to deal with it and stop it right there and then. Otherwise, the virus will immediately become a global threat. Through this global health perspective, health experts from around the world can effectively share knowledge and skills. That is how health systems become better equipped to fight off global threats.

“Never before have I seen such an intense debate in the Netherlands and across the globe on global health issues.”

Paul van den Berg, Political Advisor at Cordaid

Where these two perspectives meet, you will find the true starting point of Universal Health Coverage or Health for All. Immunisation, health systems strengthening and a strong focus on sexual and reproductive health and mental health, play a vital role in achieving this global goal. Therefore, Cordaid started advocating for Gavi’s work within the Netherlands.

The time is right

“Never before have I seen such an intense debate in the Netherlands and across the globe on global health issues and the necessity to have a resilient system in place that is able to prevent and resist pandemics like COVID-19,” says Paul van den Berg, Cordaid’s political advisor. “Also, the issue of vaccination and immunisation is heavily discussed in Dutch politics and society. The relevance and urgency of Gavi’s work resonate well in our country these days.”

The big question now is: when we finally have a vaccine for COVID-19, will it be available to everyone? Cordaid worries about populations being left out. That is why we strongly support Gavi’s efforts in accomplishing its mission: Vaccines for All.

Vaccines beyond borders

Gavi is now working on eight to ten initiatives to find a vaccine for COVID-19. The core objective is to make sure that the vaccine goes beyond borders, just like the disease did.

At the same time, current vaccination programmes must continue in order to prevent deaths from already preventable diseases. With the coming replenishment of funding for Gavi, there is still time to make a significant contribution to realising global health. Developed countries should not waste this crisis that sets a practical example and urges to look at health from a global and system perspective. Not only to stop this pandemic but also to be ready for all the others still to come.