Take action for Vaccine Justice
The arrival of 132,000 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine into Juba, South Sudan on 25th March is certainly something to give thanks for. This been facilitated by COVAX an international co-operative established by UNICEF and WHO. Under the same organisation DRC has received 1.7 million vaccines, and Zambia has been allocated 8.7 million doses from a similar organisation established by the African Union.
The story is similar for many of our global partners, hundreds of thousands of vaccines have been distributed to their nations. However, while this may seem like ground breaking news the fact is that these vaccines will only reach a fraction of their populations. Meanwhile the UK has on order enough vials to fully vaccinate the whole population three times over.
There are many pressing practical reasons why the Covid-19 vaccine should be rolled out worldwide as simultaneously as possible. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, has argued;
"“vaccine nationalism harms everyone and protects no one”. Moreover, the costs of an inward-looking policy of “health in one country” are not just narrowly economic. It also implies long-term limits on cross-border travel for all purposes."
No one is safe until everyone is safe.
But there are also moral and spiritual aspects to the issue of sharing, and prioritising those on the margins, some of which are shared particularly powerfully in this video by Dr. Mike Ryan of WHO. While there have been promises from some nations, the vaccine roll out around the world is not equitable. This means that while I nurse a sore arm and thank God for my vaccination the most vulnerable of my family in the global church remain, not just at the back of the line, but completely out of view.
Indeed if they do get ill, they remain under the radar, unknown, with very limited access to health facilities or appropriate treatment. Unequal in every way.
The complexities are huge and deeply ingrained global inequality means that local infrastructures might struggle to roll out the vaccine in some nations, compounding the difficulties. But this Holy Week we ask you not to be overwhelmed by what seems impossible for you to do alone. For we know that because one man did the impossible we are united and connected, not only with each other in the body of Christ, but with our Heavenly Father who listens to the prayers of his people. So please:
Stay informed about vaccine justice
Pray for the worldwide vaccine roll out
Keep your partners, and especially their medical facilities in prayer
Make our leaders accountable for their promises
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. John 3:16-18