Home Catastrophe squared: COVID-19 vaccine inequity in humanitarian crises

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused physical, social, and economic devastation all around the world. While more manageable case numbers and immunisation efforts seem to indicate that the world has come a long way in controlling the virus, there is great inequity in vaccination numbers around the world. Low-income countries have only received 14 doses per 100 people—13-fold lower than the 182 doses per 100 people in upper-middle income and high-income countries. This paper highlights the disparity of COVID-19 vaccination rates in high-income countries versus those afflicted with crises.

It discusses factors acting as significant barriers to the effective implementation of not only COVID-19 vaccination programs, but health and humanitarian efforts in conflicted regions in general, such as restricted access, cold chain requirements, and internal displacement and international refugee movements. It also suggests some of possible remedies that can inform current practice and work towards improving vaccination rates in areas that currently register as low coverage.

COVID-19 vaccination rates in countries hosting refugees are significantly lower than not just the world average, but also low-income countries.

There is an urgent need to link COVID-19 public health programs with humanitarian initiatives, to lead holistic responses in countries afflicted with humanitarian crises. This paper recommends linking the two outcomes together with localised schemes to strengthen community bonds, enhance capacity building practices, and address the core issues of health and aid.

Cover image: Muna, a Family Health Care worker for Save the Children in Somalia, teaches families about how to keep safe from COVID-19 and the importance of vaccines © Sacha Myers/Save the Children

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