Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) Appeal
Humanitarian Action for Children
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps support the agency’s work as it
provides conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition,
education, health and protection services. Return to main appeal page.
- The COVID-19 pandemic remains a crisis on an unprecedented scale. National governments continue to grapple with the challenges of implementing public health measures, maintaining essential health and social services, and reaching populations—especially the hardest to reach—with COVID-19 tools. New variants continue to emerge as the pandemic persists.
- Bringing its technical expertise in supply, logistics and programming, UNICEF is the lead implementation partner of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). Working with ACT-A partners, national governments and communities, UNICEF is working to address the stark inequalities that exist in access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests, treatments and personal protective equipment (PPE).
- In 2021, UNICEF shipped more than 560 million COVID-19 doses to 144 countries and has provided incountry technical and financial support in over 130 countries to turn vaccines into vaccinations. Yet more needs to be done to end this pandemic, especially in humanitarian situations.
- The 2022 ACT-A Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal seeks to raise US$1.3 billion. We urgently require funds to:
- support in-country delivery of COVID-19 vaccines with a focus on interventions that strengthen primary health care systems
- deliver diagnostic tests and related technical assistance
- strengthen oxygen systems and deliver novel and repurposed therapeutics
- provide front-line workers with PPE and supplies to work safely
- support risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) to promote the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments.
Funding requirements for 2022
Humanitarian needs and strategy
Since the start of the pandemic, 260 million COVID-19 cases and 5.2 million deaths have been reported globally. Yet these figures likely under-report the devastation, especially in low- and middle-income countries, where data availability, surveillance and testing capacity are limited. Disruptions to education and essential health services remain significant. The COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating the vulnerabilities of children and families everywhere – and fueling inequalities.
As the pandemic continues, many national governments are struggling to sustain implementation of public health measures to reduce transmission of COVID-19, and deliver on their broader response plans to address COVID-19 and its consequences. Weak health systems lack capacity to deliver COVID-19 tools at scale. Greater support is also needed to work with communities and civil society to address COVID-19 misinformation, combat vaccine hesitancy and increase the adoption of vaccines, tests and treatments.
While we laud the significant achievements of the ACT-A collaboration so far, we note that access to COVID-19 tools remains grossly unequal. For example, as of 1 December 2021, only 3 per cent of people in low-income countries were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, compared with 68 per cent of people in high-income countries. In fragile and humanitarian contexts, populations in need are still not being reached effectively. This inequality is not only unjust, but is also prolonging the pandemic for everyone, as new variants emerge in settings where vaccine coverage is low and COVID-19 infections continue to spread.
Urgent attention is needed to ensure that people affected by humanitarian crises and other marginalized and vulnerable populations have access to COVID-19 tools. The Humanitarian Buffer mechanism has been established with the COVAX Facility as a measure of ‘last resort’ to reach vulnerable populations when all other efforts have failed. Its aim is to deliver 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.
UNICEF’s strategy to deliver on its ACT-A commitments complements the agency’s ongoing work to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, deliver essential health and social services, and build more resilient systems. In 2022, through this appeal, UNICEF will focus on the following key priorities:
In all low- and middle-income countries where UNICEF provides in-country delivery support, UNICEF will provide technical assistance and support to:
- The Vaccine Pillar – to turn vaccines into vaccinations, UNICEF will prioritize high-risk, hard-to-reach groups, including humanitarian populations, and work to reduce inequities in countries. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee has agreed that UNICEF’s ACT-A HAC appeal will be the centralized mechanism for financing operational costs associated with vaccine allocations from the Humanitarian Buffer. When supporting countries in vaccine delivery, UNICEF will focus on activities and approaches that simultaneously strengthen the health system, such as implementing digital immunization records and improving the overall management of the supply chain.
- Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) (part of the Health Systems and Response Connector) – to build the capacities of civil society, community health actors and the social service workforce in relevant programmatic areas, such as community engagement and interpersonal communication. UNICEF will support people-centred, community-led engagement campaigns to increase trust, promote the adoption of COVID-19 tools and address vaccine hesitancy.
In the most vulnerable countries with ongoing humanitarian crises, UNICEF will provide procurement, supply and technical assistance to:
- The Diagnostics Pillar – to support procurement and supply of diagnostic tests, to meet acute gaps for COVID-19 testing. Where needed, diagnostics will be accompanied by technical assistance to support rapid scale-up (e.g., strengthening supply chains and training health workers).
- The Therapeutics Pillar – to provide technical support to build and improve oxygen systems and supplies.
- Personal Protective Equipment (part of the Health Systems and Response Connector) – to procure and deliver quality PPE to enable front-line workers to deliver health care safely. UNICEF has PPE stock pre-positioned and available for delivery to countries in need, subject to funding.
To enable an effective coordinated response, UNICEF will invest in:
- Global coordination and technical support – to enable effective coordination with ACT-A partners and across headquarters, regional offices and country offices. In doing so, UNICEF will have greater capacity to provide timely strategic, technical, advocacy, communications, and partnership support, and leverage existing investments.
UNICEF in action
Delivering vaccines to hard-to-reach locations: The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from COVAX arrived in Uganda on 5 March 2021. By 17 June, 1,039,200 COVAX vaccines had been delivered to Uganda – and by the end of June, almost 900,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered to people. The challenge of getting vaccines to people in some of the most remote parts of the country, such as Bwama in Kabale District, delayed the start of the vaccine roll out in these areas. UNICEF supported the Ministry of Health by providing fuel for the boats, which helped to transport COVID-19 vaccines safely to Bwama Health Centre III to enable the launch of the vaccination roll out in Bwama on 28 April 2021.
Humanitarian Action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. This edition of Humanitarian Action for Children – UNICEF’s annual humanitarian fundraising appeal – describes the ongoing global Access to COVID19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) collaboration; the strategies that we are using to respond to this situation; and the donor support that is essential in this response.