02/26/2020
Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore on the disruption of immunization and basic health services due to the COVID-19 pandemic
https://www.unicef.org/eca/press-releases/statement-unicef-executive-director-henrietta-fore-disruption-immunization-and-basic
: “Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is overstretching health services as health workers are diverted to support the response. “Physical distancing is leading parents to make the difficult decision to defer routine immunization. “Medical goods are in short supply and supply chains are under historic strain due to transport disruptions. Flight cancellations and trade restrictions by countries have severely constrained access to essential medicines, including vaccines. “As the pandemic progresses, critical life-saving services, including immunization, will likely be disrupted, especially in Africa, Asia and the Middle East where they are sorely needed. “At the greatest risk are children from the poorest families in countries affected by conflicts and natural disasters. “We are particularly concerned about countries that are battling measles, cholera or polio outbreaks while responding to COVID-19 cases, such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, the Philippines, Syria and South Sudan. Not only would such outbreaks tax already stretched health services, they could also lead to additional loss of lives and suffering. At a time like this, these countries can ill-afford to face additional outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. “The message is clear: We must not allow lifesaving health interventions to fall victim to our efforts to address COVID-19. “UNICEF is committed to supporting basic health care and immunization needs in the worst affected countries, and to doing so in a way that limits the risk of COVID-19 transmission. We are working hard to ensure adequate vaccine supplies are available in countries that need them. We are in close communication with global vaccine suppliers to ensure production is not disrupted and supply is managed in the best possible manner under these difficult circumstances. We are also providing greater support to governments to continue the supply of vaccines during this pandemic.   “In the days to come, governments may have to temporarily postpone preventive mass vaccination campaigns in many places to ensure that the delivery of immunization services does not contribute to COVID-19 spread, and to follow recommendations on physical distancing. “UNICEF strongly recommends that all governments begin rigorous planning now to intensify immunization activities once the COVID -19 pandemic is under control. These vaccination activities must focus on children who will miss vaccine doses during this period of interruption and prioritize the poorest and most vulnerable children. To successfully roll-out vaccines against COVID -19 when they become available, we need to ensure that our immunization programmes remain robust and can reach those that will need these vaccines the most.    “Immunization remains a life-saving health intervention. As the world's biggest buyer and supplier of vaccines, UNICEF will continue to play a pivotal role in supporting governments’ current and future immunization efforts.” Nurse Milka Babic performs immunization UNICEF/UNI218376/Pancic
04/26/2021
Celebrating the past, present and future benefits of vaccines
https://www.unicef.org/eca/press-releases/celebrating-past-present-and-future-benefits-vaccines
 - This past, difficult year of the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear how vulnerable we all are to a deadly new disease, when we don’t have the right vaccines or medical technologies we normally use to fight back. Long before COVID-19, one crucial tool – simply called “routine immunization” – was already saving millions of lives and preventing debilitating sickness, particularly among children. Routine immunization protects not only the person vaccinated, but also others in their communities. It helps pave the way to universal health coverage and Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals – ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination at an ever-increasing speed across the WHO European Region, just a year after the start of the pandemic, is an impressive achievement. The European Union, WHO, UNICEF, all national governments and other partners have worked side by side in this response. Thanks to the global COVAX allocation mechanism and Team Europe’s effort some countries in the region that could not have competed on the global vaccine market on their own, are seeing vaccines being rolled-out. The European Union, WHO and UNICEF are now working with private and public sectors to overcome supply and capacity challenges and enable faster delivery. The uneven roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination to date highlights another truth: Inequitable access to health technologies between and within countries hurts us all. The virus and its impact on interlinked economies and societies know no borders. No country is safe until all countries are safe. While COVID-19 vaccination must continue at a faster and more equitable pace, it must not come at the cost of neglecting routine immunization. Any dip in routine coverage caused by the pandemic in 2020 or 2021 will pave the way for future outbreaks and jeopardize decades of progress.   In 2019, the European Region continued its record-breaking trend in routine vaccination coverage rates against measles and other vaccine preventable diseases. While 2020 saw an exceptionally low rate of reported measles cases, the pandemic has challenged national immunization programmes to keep up and catch up on routine shots. We must keep measles and other preventable diseases at bay by maintaining high routine vaccination coverage rates in every community, even during the pandemic. This year, more than ever, we call on everyone to do their part by choosing health information sources carefully, getting all routine vaccinations in due time and accepting COVID-19 vaccination for yourself and your loved ones when your turn comes. Talk to your children and others about vaccination, so they also come to see that it is not just an injection, but an investment in a healthier future and a safer world. A girl is getting her routine vaccination in Armenia. UNICEF Armenia/2021/Margaryan
12/04/2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to enter a new phase, UNICEF reminds the world that ‘the light at the end of the tunnel needs to shine for all’
https://www.unicef.org/eca/press-releases/covid-19-pandemic-begins-enter-new-phase-unicef-reminds-world-light-end-tunnel-needs
 “COVID-19 is the first truly global crisis we have seen in our lifetimes. No matter where we live, the pandemic affects every one of us. Children have been seriously impacted. However, with more news about promising vaccines, and as we begin to imagine a day when COVID-19 is behind us, our guiding principle must be that the light at the end of the tunnel needs to shine for all. “This is why UNICEF has enthusiastically joined the Advance Market Commitment of the COVAX Facility to allow low- and lower-middle income countries access to COVID-19 vaccines. It is the best way to make sure that, as vaccines become available, no country is pushed to the back of the line. This would not only be fundamentally unfair, it would be unwise. The whole world will remain vulnerable to the virus until countries with the weakest health systems are protected from it as well. “In order for the COVAX Facility to work and guarantee equitable and affordable access to low- and lower-middle income countries, we need a global commitment to support and capitalize it, but also to finance the delivery of vaccines and associated supplies such as syringes and safety boxes. Governments must work together to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are affordable and accessible to all countries. High-income countries should invest financially in the Advance Market Commitment and in UNICEF’s COVID-19 vaccine delivery efforts. All countries should take a strong stand against export controls on – and unnecessary stockpiling of – commodities for the COVID-19 response.  “UNICEF is also leveraging our unique strengths in community engagement and vaccine supply to make sure that countries participating in the COVAX Facility have safe, fast and equitable access to the vaccine. This is an enormous undertaking and many challenges still lay ahead.  As the largest vaccine buyer in the world,  procuring more than 2 billion doses  annually for routine immunization and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries, UNICEF is c oordinating and supporting  the procurement,  international freight , and in-country distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for the COVAX Facility. “Together with WHO, PAHO, GAVI and other partners at the global and regional levels, UNICEF is also working to support countries to ‘ready’ their immunization programmes for this historic roll-out. This includes assessing capacity and helping countries to strengthen their cold and supply chains so that they have adequate infrastructure to transport and store the vaccines for delivery to the frontlines. “However, the existence of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine alone will not end the pandemic. We need a diverse set of tools to help slow the spread of COVID-19, including diagnostics and treatments, as well as a continuance of preventive measures such as hand washing, physical distancing and mask wearing. UNICEF is providing governments with access to personal protective equipment, validated testing approaches, and proven treatments. In addition, UNICEF continues to work with multilateral partners to support governments with infection prevention control, water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, physical distancing, surveillance, contact tracing, case identification and community referral systems to stem the pandemic. “Lastly, we continue to help countries ensure the continuity of key essential services for women, children and young people – especially the most vulnerable. COVID-19 related disruptions have had a heavy impact on children: on their safety, their well-being, their future. Even as the fight against the disease enters into a hopeful new phase, we must not forget the work ahead of us to respond, recover and reimagine a better world for children.” ###
06/16/2021
UNICEF signs supply agreement for Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine
https://www.unicef.org/eca/press-releases/unicef-signs-supply-agreement-sputnik-v-covid-19-vaccine
 UNICEF and Human Vaccine (Limited Liability Company), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), today announced a long-term agreement (LTA) for the supply of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine. This is the fourth long-term supply agreement UNICEF has signed with a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer. So far this year, UNICEF has signed such agreements with the Serum Institute of India, Pfizer and AstraZeneca. Procurement by UNICEF under this agreement is conditional on the product achieving an Emergency Use Listing from WHO, to confirm the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine.  In addition, an Advance Purchase Agreement (APA) with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, will also be needed for procurement to begin on behalf of the COVAX Facility. Should the COVAX Facility decide to enter into an advance purchase agreement for the supply of the Sputnik V vaccine, UNICEF will be ready to deliver as soon as regulatory milestones have been met. At this point, UNICEF through this LTA, stands ready to access up to 220 million doses of the vaccine available for supply in 2021, to meet country demand.  The Sputnik V vaccine consists of two different components of the vaccine to be administered 21 days apart. An exact delivery schedule will be determined in collaboration with the manufacturer. UNICEF’s priority is to make sure that all countries have safe, fast and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccine and to help them prepare for the rollout of immunization.  The best way to bring the pandemic under control is to ensure that safe and effective vaccines are made available as widely as possible and as quickly as possible, reducing inequity by ensuring that no country or territory is left behind due to its economic status. On 24 February 2021, COVID-19 vaccine vials are produced for the COVAX facility at a manufacturer in Pune, a city located in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. UNICEF/UN0421679?Singh
02/14/2018
Tackling sexual exploitation and abuse of children: Actions and commitments
https://www.unicef.org/eca/press-releases/tackling-sexual-exploitation-and-abuse-children-actions-and-commitments
– “Sexual exploitation and abuse of children under any circumstances is reprehensible. No organization is immune from this scourge and we are continuously working to better address it. When it comes to the protection of children, we are determined to act. There is no room for complacency.  “As UNICEF’s Executive Director, I have put this issue at the top of our agenda and we are committed to strong action and transparency within UNICEF. “To make sure we are doing everything possible, we are commissioning an independent review of our procedures and I will make its recommendations public. “My team is also exploring ways to use technology to quickly assess the risks of sexual exploitation of abuse, and facilitate safe and confidential reporting by the victims.  “Starting in locations where the risk of sexual exploitation and abuse is higher, we are implementing more stringent vetting of all personnel and improving safety and protection around children in our operations. “These new measures add to the strong and determined actions we have taken over the years to prevent the abuse of children and respond to the needs of those affected, building on the lessons we have learned and a regular assessment of our approaches:  We have made the reporting of sexual exploitation and abuse mandatory, through a notification alert that reports information to me within 24 hours. We have scaled up our assistance to victims and are providing them with safe and confidential support; We are rolling-out community-based complaint mechanisms;  We have strengthened our investigations unit; and  We have made training on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse mandatory.  “We have zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, and we remain committed to continually learning and improving. We want justice for the child victims and are determined to work with all partners to achieve it.” Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore.
04/07/2020
Debt relief for the poorest countries critical in fight against COVID-19
https://www.unicef.org/eca/press-releases/debt-relief-poorest-countries-critical-fight-against-covid-19
 “COVID-19 is generating an unprecedented global economic crisis. And as we witness in all such crises, this economic destruction is cruelly and unequally distributed. “For the world’s poorest countries, the financial fallout caused by the pandemic, combined with debilitating debt-service obligations, are hampering their ability to prevent further transmission and protect citizens. “And for the families within those countries, with widespread loss of income and limited access to food in environments where social distancing is impossible, soap and water for handwashing a luxury, and quality health services non-existent, the situation is already dire, and it is only going to get worse. “While children are largely spared the immediate health consequences of the pandemic, they will suffer the economic destruction left in its wake. More than 200 million children live in debt-distressed countries and those at high risk of debt distress. The burden of debt leaves countries struggling to prevent disease transmission.   “Low-income countries in particular are being forced to drastically increase spending to respond to the health emergency, while scaling up – or, in some cases, creating – social protection systems including unconditional cash transfers, guarantee of income for those who lose their jobs and employment security. “The additional spending required must not come at the cost of other critical services for children, such as routine immunization, maternity care, and child protection. At this crucial time, countries need to spend more to protect the future of their children. “To reduce disease transmission and prevent further economic catastrophe, UNICEF wholeheartedly joins The World Bank President and IMF Managing Director in their call for debt relief and debt restructuring for countries in need.” “As the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres noted in his recent letter to the G20, debt restructuring is a priority — including immediate waivers on interest payments for 2020. By relaxing the burden of debt financings, countries are more likely to deliver the agile and aggressive response required to reduce the impact of the economic crisis and stop COVID-19 in its tracks.”   Two boys walk to their settlements in Hadhwe sub-district, Ethiopia UNICEF/UN0141603/Ayene