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COVID-19 offers lessons to improve vaccine equity in Global South
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Amy Rowland, MSc.
Communication Director, Emory Global Health Institute
individual receiving vaccine

A staff member gets vaccinated during the school-wide vaccination day in Cameroon.

— Caleb Kwyna

Emory University’s Rebecca Martin urges action to advance health security and health equity by improving access to and pathways for the delivery of vaccines. Martin and coauthors of the recent BMJ Global Health analysis, “Lessons Learnt from COVID-19 to Reduce Mortality and Morbidity in the Global South: Addressing Global Vaccine Equity for Future Pandemics,” detail actions and desired outcomes to improve global vaccine equity in the Global South and beyond before a future pandemic.

Rebecca Martin

Rebecca Martin of Emory Global Health Institute was lead author of the analysis.

“We encourage public health leaders in the Global South to begin by reviewing their successes in diagnosing and treating HIV (human immunodeficiency virus),” says Martin, Emory’s vice president for global health and director of Emory Global Health Institute. “Organizations and communities have worked together toward equitable access to services for people with HIV and to achieve shared goals in prevention. These lessons can guide actions toward improving global vaccine equity and strengthening health security.”

Analyses of public health responses to the COVID-19 pandemic emphasize the inequities in access, price, delivery and uptake of mRNA vaccines.

To increase vaccine access, the authors of the analysis stress these actions:

  • Assure vaccine production in multiple locations around the world
  • Make vaccine pricing transparent
  • Collect and share vaccine data
  • Establish a new international legal framework that enables quick, temporary suspension of intellectual property rights when a global pandemic is declared

To improve delivery and uptake of vaccines, the authors propose these actions:

  • Create or strengthen public health systems to deliver vaccines across the lifespan
  • Implement a vaccination strategy based on public health criteria
  • Create and strengthen regulatory agencies to evaluate vaccine safety and efficacy
  • Collect and assure access to vital statistics
  • Communicate timely, science-based health information

Read the full article in BMJ Global Health. Visit the EGHI website to learn more about EGHI’s mission and programs to improve health equity worldwide.

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