Delivered by Minister of State for Advanced Technology Sarah Al Amiri
The UAE is honored to partner with the United Kingdom and France in preparing today’s briefing, and I would like to thank Lord Ahmad for chairing. The UK’s leadership at the Council on vaccination in conflict and fragile settings remains deeply appreciated, not least on resolution 2565. I would also like to extend our gratitude to Ted Chaiban, Dr. Esperanza Martinez, and Dr. Emmanuel Ojwang for their insights.
This session is an important prompt to accelerate our collective commitment to global vaccination and to realize the promise and values of resolutions 2565 and 2532. As a policymaker in science and technology, I am heartened by the unprecedented speed of innovation around COVID vaccines. It is a testament to the speed that we can globally work at, leveraging existing capabilities and, in our case, building new ones.
However, the pandemic is far from over, and new waves coupled with new variants are evidence that no one is safe until everyone is safe.
COVID’s impact on global security furthermore has a long tail, beyond mobility restrictions and supply chain disruptions. It has inflicted social and economic stress – and, in some cases, devastation – on already fragile communities, by undermining livelihoods and basic services like education and health. And, as we know, women and girls are still bearing the brunt of these effects. The pandemic’s lasting security legacy will likely be the worsening of the root causes of these challenges globally, and a solution is necessary to avoid far reaching ripple effects from this pandemic.
Last month during the UAE’s presidency, we highlighted the status of vaccination in countries on the Council’s agenda. Progress in these countries, against the global goal of 70%, ranged from a high of 49% of the eligible population to a low of less than 1%, with an alarming average below 10%.
We are therefore encouraged by the Council’s continued commitment to the implementation of resolution 2565. We have come too far to give up, and, as we have heard, this year represents perhaps the best opportunity in two years to improve vaccination in countries on the Council’s agenda.
The UAE has been proud to support both multilateral and bilateral vaccination efforts, including vaccine and logistical contributions to COVAX, and large-scale global PPE distribution in over 135 countries.
From this experience of working with humanitarian and health agencies, we would like to highlight four areas where the Council can support a faster implementation of resolution 2565.
First, it is important that we as the Council continue to underscore the security benefits of vaccinations. It is an important incentive for sustained contributions to global vaccination campaigns, especially through COVAX and its Humanitarian Buffer.
Second, all instances of improved humanitarian access enhance vaccination efforts, providing safety and mobility for both health workers and patients. The Council’s support for these tools – from ceasefires to days of tranquility to humanitarian notification systems – as appropriate in specific contexts, can make a difference in the rapid delivery and distribution of vaccines.
Third, the Council should encourage entities operating under its mandate to ensure the coordination at the country level so that COVID-19 vaccination is part of the bundle of essential services provided by the UN and its partners. This is especially important in a period of food insecurity and high commodity prices. This coordination will also ensure that we are taking full advantage of opportunities provided by access to communities.
Finally, the Council must advocate for gender-responsiveness in vaccination. Women receive fewer doses in many fragile countries because of physical and social barriers, prolonging the pandemic’s security impacts. Women’s leadership in vaccination efforts, as well as gender accountability tools for implementing agencies, are proven ways to improve equity.
While much of the heavy lifting on vaccination and resolution 2565 will be done by humanitarian and health sectors, the Council has a clear stake in the result of their work, and in supporting them at every turn. The fair and equitable distribution of vaccines is both a strategic investment and a moral obligation. It is also achievable. This current drive, if dealt with from a long-term perspective will build the necessary know-how and experience to aid in future vaccine distribution, strengthening existing healthcare and logistical systems.
We learned through the global drive towards developing, testing, and deploying vaccines that silos can be broken, and that global collaboration is a possibility.
And as I also look at my experience in other aspects of my portfolio once deemed improbable, working toward addressing the challenges while building a better vaccine delivery system will remove COVID-19 as a source of fragility.