Remarks by Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, at the high-level side event on the ACT-Accelerator at the 75th session of UN General Assembly

As prepared for delivery

30 September 2020

NEW YORK, 30 September 2020 – "UNICEF is proud to be part of this historic initiative.

“Three decades ago, we led the universal child immunization initiative.

“Today, with our partners — and thanks to dedicated frontline workers and volunteers worldwide — we deliver nearly 2.5 billion doses of vaccines every year.

“We’ve built an incredible track record of scaling new vaccines for children.

“And most importantly — to your question — we understand the vital importance of preparing countries and communities for vaccines, on both the supply and demand sides.

“Delivery and acceptance go hand-in-hand.

“On the supply side, securing more than two billion doses of vaccine by 2021 will require every ounce of UNICEF’s strengths and expertise in market-shaping and strategic procurement.   

“We’re working with WHO and local partners to help prepare governments to receive and deliver a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Even before the pandemic, with our friends at GAVI, we invested nearly $500 million in the last few years to strengthen cold chain infrastructure. Investments that will make it easier to deliver the COVID vaccine where it’s needed.

“But we also know that there are still gaps. So our Country Offices are now working with governments on an urgent basis to close these gaps on the ground.

“On the demand side, we must build confidence and trust in vaccines and in the health systems delivering them.

“The pandemic has brought to light the lingering challenges of mistrust, misinformation and rumours around vaccines — their safety and effectiveness.

“Our teams on the ground are reporting that baseless rumours about the COVID-19 vaccine are eroding trust in other vaccination programmes. In fact, some communities have rejected polio campaigns outright for fear of being subjected to COVID-19 vaccine trials.

“UNICEF has now activated our social mobilization networks for polio to build demand and enhance acceptance. And we’re working with our partners and communities to use social media and other tools to stamp-out rumours and misinformation.

“This work will also be vital as we deploy additional tools like therapeutics and diagnostics, and continue our work to re-build stronger health systems in the aftermath of COVID-19.

“But our success depends on all of us.

“To governments — help us prepare for the rollout of a vaccine in your countries, and keep other campaigns up-and running.

“To donors — help us give this work the funding it deserves, especially in countries that are suffering economically from the pandemic. They need our help.

“And to our partners — let’s keep up the good work and match the historic promise of this exciting initiative with an equally historic effort.”

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