The WPL Global Study on Immunisation shares the perspectives of political leaders toward vaccination programmes and its importance throughout the landscape of the pandemic. The results aim to illuminate the resilience of vaccination programmes in the context of the COVID-19 disruption, to equip political leaders with insights and actions on how to protect immunisation programmes for the greater good of global society.
With the launch of the Study, WPL presented its findings in a live panel discussion with expert health professionals and women leaders, including:
- Aminata Touré, President, Economic, Social and Environmental Council (2019-2020); President’s Special Envoy for Internal and External Affairs (2015-2019); Prime Minister (2013-2014); Minister of Justice Attorney General (2012-2013), Senegal, WPL Global Ambassador for Vaccination
- Anupama Tantri, Executive Director, Global Vaccines Public Policy Development, MSD
- Hatice Küçük, Executive Director, The G20 Health and Development Partnership
- Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President, Malta (2014-2019); President, Eurochild; Member of WPL Board, Girl2Leader Patron, Europe
- Mercy Korir, Health & Science Editor, The Standard Group; Health and Medical news anchor (2017-2020); Liaison Officer, Government of the Republic of Kenya (2015-2017)
Moderated by Mercy Korir, the roundtable discussed the significance of the Immunisation Study during a critical period in health policy-making. The threat to global public health goes beyond COVID-19. Interruptions to health service delivery can reverse years of gains seen in infectious disease control and social mobility. “94% of the participants in the Study are confident in the vaccine, yet only 31% have only actively engaged in immunisation programs that prevent diseases,” says Dr. Korir, highlighting the discrepancies in immunisation investment and implementation.
Active political engagement, investment, and multilateral efforts, like COVAX, are imperative to ensure equitable access to vaccines. “We need to keep in mind that no one is safe until everyone is safe. Equitable access to immunisation should be a guiding principle, with one to ensure healthy lives and wellbeing for all. No one should be left behind, irrespective of demographic, socioeconomic, or geographic aspects,” says Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca.
To achieve equitable distribution, governments and private sector donors must invest in strengthening systems necessary for the delivery of vaccines. Citing the demand for long-term investments, Aminata Touré uplifts the need to go beyond advocacy, “What we need to look into is the pledges. We have to hold accountable those who took promises. It is now a money game. A very important one, because so many lives depend on it.”
Adding to the call for global stakeholders, Anupama Tantri cites the need to strengthen global networks and infrastructures that can prevent disinformation; stating, “Questions are only natural, but it should signal to political leaders the need for more investments. The importance of communication strategies right now — it all takes investments.”
Moving forward, leaders must support efforts to scale up more distributed manufacturing, so that all countries can be prepared for future crises. “No vaccination will be good if it’s only for the rich world, because when you don’t vaccinate the developing world, you will have the emergence of another epidemic,” says Hatice Küçük.
The panel discussion supports the efforts of WPL and MSD to provide leaders with recommendations for health policy-making and multinational approaches to achieve more resilient immunisation programmes. By understanding where we are today, we can better support and contribute to the success of vaccination programmes tomorrow.
“WPL Global Study on Immunisation” can be read in its entirety here.