Vaccine equity in conflict-affected areas: the challenges of development, production, supply and distribution, May 2022 – World
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on people living in areas affected by fragility, conflict and violence. At the same time, the complications inherent in armed conflict – political, logistical, security and other – make it particularly difficult for these people to access vaccines.
These challenges to equitable access to vaccines in conflict-affected areas are linked to broader challenges related to the development, approval, production, supply and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Although vaccine production has been increased at an unprecedented rate, it still fails to meet the needs of the entire world population. The limited supply available has gone disproportionately to high-income countries, often through non-transparent commercial contracts. COVAX, a mechanism to ensure equal access to vaccines for all participating countries, has suffered from funding shortfalls. Even when countries receive vaccines, they often face challenges in rolling out immunization programs, either because they lack adequate capacity, or because doses expire or are not acceptable to communities who need to receive them.
These challenges are even greater in conflict-affected areas, where resources are scarce, logistics can be difficult, competing priorities can overwhelm the pandemic response, and insecurity can limit safe access to populations. living behind the lines of conflict. To overcome these challenges, those planning and implementing immunization programs must ensure that they leverage existing humanitarian logistics capacity to get vaccines to conflict-affected communities. They must also ensure that national governments, which are ultimately responsible for vaccinating their populations, include conflict-affected areas in their national deployment and vaccination plans. In addition, they should consider how to adapt to changing patterns of conflict and movement of people, for example by distributing vaccines at transit points for migrants or in camps for refugees or internally displaced persons. interior of the country.
Another consideration for vaccination campaigns in conflict-affected areas is the need to protect vaccinators from threats they may face, which may require negotiating humanitarian access. In addition, it is essential that immunization programs adhere to the principle of impartiality to avoid the perception that they favor one party to the conflict. To this end, those delivering vaccines should be careful about partnering with military or security personnel when delivering vaccines and should prioritize community engagement.