UNICEF chief urges the world to assist India ‘now’ as Covid instances soar

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore told CNBC that she was “very concerned” about the current Covid-19 crisis in India and urged the world to send urgent aid to the country.

During World Immunization Week, Fore also said it was a “race to save lives” through vaccination, 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 went over 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 of Covid in the country.

“It is worrying for a number of reasons. First, is it a forerunner of what could happen in other countries, particularly in African countries, with much weaker health systems?” Fore said last week.

“It’s worrying because their healthcare system is overwhelmed. It’s the need for oxygen and therapeutics that we just haven’t seen in this pandemic in another country of this magnitude.”

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 both UNICEF and COVAX’s global immunization program had sent aid to the country, and help from other nations made a big difference. “But it is not enough because India is part of our supply chain. So this is where we source a lot of the vaccines and we now have to help India as the world,” she added.

UNICEF is the United Nations agency responsible for helping children around the world.

“Help us now”

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the world has stopped paying attention to other routine vaccinations, warned Fore. Around 60 routine vaccination campaigns have been halted around the world as countries focus on fighting the pandemic.

To address these challenges while helping recovery from the global pandemic, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and other partners are supporting a global strategy known as the Immunization Agenda 2030. The initiative aims to save 50 million lives on “an ambitious new global strategy to maximize the life-saving effects of vaccines through stronger immunization systems”.

Fore said around half of the world’s vaccinations come from routine UNICEF vaccinations for children.

“Polio, measles, yellow fever … all of these are vaccines that children need, but they are also vaccines that adults need. So we are asking families to come to primary health clinics in their own communities, bring in and have their children If you are vaccinated against these childhood diseases, you will also get a Covid vaccine and we can save 50 million lives, “she said.

When asked if she had a message for world leaders today, Fore said, “Well, help us now.”

Henrietta H. Fore, Managing Director of UNICEF on July 05, 2018 in BERLIN, GERMANY.

Ute Grabowsky / Photo library via Getty Images

“We are concerned that the world is ignoring things like routine vaccinations. We cannot lose this population, our children, to an epidemic while we worry about Covid as a pandemic for our world. Please help us now,” she said added.

Despite the ongoing global pandemic, Fore said it was time to focus on such initiatives.

“People are now realizing 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 vaccination program that targets everyone in a society, both routine vaccinations and Covid will help.”

Global investment

However, Fore told CNBC that it can be difficult to focus global investments on supporting the programs.

“The Covax facility called for $ 23 billion, which sounds like a huge amount, but when you look at global GDP and opportunities, it’s a very small number,” she said.

“So they realize that we as a world can afford this, and if we could bring out vaccines for children and adults in the years to come, we would be a world that would have more justice, more fairness and better health across the board.”

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