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/ Religions for Peace discusses equitable distribution of vaccines with WHO Secretary-General

Religions for Peace discusses equitable distribution of vaccines with WHO Secretary-General

New York

In the fight against the Corona pandemic, a gap has opened up between privileged countries that can afford large quantities of the expensive vaccines and poorer countries that fall short. On March 19, nearly 20 religious leaders from the Religions for Peace network pointed out this injustice to WHO Secretary-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a video conference. The religious leaders, representing faith communities from around the world, asked Ghebreyesus to pay even greater attention to global vaccine equity.

The religious leaders also addressed the problem of anti-vaccinationists. It is a problem that exists in all countries around the world: Opponents of vaccination hindered vaccination campaigns, which prolonged and exacerbated the crisis situation. The Religions for Peace network stressed the need for greater outreach to vaccination opponents within religious communities. The WHO, the faith representatives urged, needs to be more aware of the fears that anti-vaccinationists generate. The gap between science and faith also needs to be bridged. This is a task that the Religions for Peace network has taken on itself.

The WHO should pay special attention to people’s mental health and place emphasis on overcoming trauma. The needs of migrants and refugees and of women and children should be a particular focus.

WHO-General Secretary Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Secretary General Ghebreyesus followed the religious representatives’ speeches closely and said that he would like to formalize cooperation with the Religions for Peace network. Collaboration has many advantages in the fight against the Corona pandemic, he said: religious leaders carry strong moral weight with religious decision-makers. In addition, faith representatives:in have empathy for people’s spiritual, mental, and psychosocial needs, which helps address pandemic-related trauma, he said.

Ghebreyesus also encouraged the Religions for Peace network to specifically address the specific aspects of mental health. The pandemic, he said, is causing trauma in all populations around the world.

T The Secretary-General made clear WHO’s position in the global immunization strategy: only when all the people of the world have access to vaccines will all the people of the world be safe. If there are not enough vaccines for everyone, then even those who have already been vaccinated are not safe from mutations against which the existing vaccines are powerless, he said. But the problem that hangs in the balance is the intellectual property rights of the vaccine manufacturers. If the rich nations were to give up these property rights, it would make a crucial difference for the whole world: whether all people could be vaccinated within three years or whether it might take a whole decade.

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