Inequality in the Solution

Niel Dustin Benedict Agner ||

Photo Credit: International Disability Alliance

In recent years, nothing has ever been as disruptive to human society as the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic took the world by surprise, and amidst this life-changing experience, one of the voices that need to be heard is the World Health Organization (WHO), which PubMed describes as one that “plays an essential role in the global governance of health and disease due to its core global functions of establishing, monitoring and enforcing international norms and standards, and coordinating multiple actors toward common goals.”

An article on cited that WHO describes itself as the “the global guardian of health.” It is imperative to ask: What does its leadership have to say now, after a year of the global health crisis that challenged its organization? 

In a speech delivered by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director General, some key lessons about the pandemic were discussed. First, COVID-19 exposed the capacity of nations around the world in terms of crisis preparedness and response. Second, the pandemic illustrates the close association between and among the health of humans, animals, and the planet. Third, the global pandemic requires a very reliant and competent WHO.

The question now is: Since vaccination is supposedly the cure to this pandemic, what does WHO have to say about the distribution of it?

Dr. Ghebreyesus calls upon all countries for the equal distribution and deployment of vaccines. He emphasized,

“It’s not right that younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers and older people in poorer countries. Prioritize those most at risk of severe diseases and death.”

As much as WHO desires to achieve the equal and fair distribution of vaccines, a substantial amount of work still has to be done. WHO reported that more than 39 million doses of vaccine have been given to at least 49 higher-income countries, whereas only 25 doses have been given in one lower-income country. 

This unequal distribution of vaccines can lead to unwanted scenarios that WHO wanted to avoid such as vaccine hoarders, market chaos, uncoordinated responses, and continued social and economic disruption.

“Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic, the restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering,”

the WHO Director General warned.

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