With the Emergence of Omicron Women Frontline Health Care Workers and Vaccine Equity Still Key to Addressing COVID

The following statement can be attributed to Ritu Sharma, CARE Vice President for US Programs and Policy:

6 DECEMBER 2021– For two years now, CARE and many others have been repeating: no one is safe until everyone is safe. Omicron proves—again—that this is the hard truth. New variants will continue to menace the globe if we keep failing to invest in last-mile vaccine delivery. Getting to 70% means immediate significant investments in women frontline health care workers and healthcare systems in low-income countries. Women are on the frontlines fighting this pandemic. And they are the solution.

And yet, even though 70% of these frontline and community health care workers across the globe are women, none of the solutions presented to address COVID so far have been adequately built around their needs or their role in ending the pandemic.  None have sufficiently focused on alleviating the secondary impacts of COVID on their lives, as health care workers, but also women in their community—unpaid caregivers and primary wage earners.  And, none have truly focused on investing specifically and significantly in these women, the local groups they lead, or the community health systems that support them, without which last mile delivery will be nearly impossible.

In fact, two years in, the pandemic is still raging in so much of the world, yet still only around 5% of people in lower income countries have been fully vaccinated, because of our moral and political failure to center the role of these women, and our lack foresight in how critical they are to ending the pandemic. Soon, ramped up production of vaccines means that LMIC (Low and Middle Income Countries) will have to deliver 7.5 times more vaccines a month than they ever have before. That means we are rapidly approaching a moment where the whole world will watch as the vaccine doses it just manufactured and shared sit and expire in ports and warehouses.

A serious investment in last-mile delivery that centers the role of women health care workers is not a choice. It is the missing piece of the puzzle everyone has so far been dancing around.  It is how we avoid the next variant and combat this one.  So, CARE’s question is, what will change at the next Global COVID Summit? Will we be able to say we mustered the political will to make the bold global investments necessary to end the pandemic? Or will we miss the moment, the moment we created, and allow the pandemic to continue to spread and mutate around the world devastating our own attempts at recovery?

The choices we make now will decide that future.

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Media Relations
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About CARE Canada:

Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE develops solutions alongside women and girls in developing countries to lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of poverty and out of crisis. CARE stands with women and girls around the world in economic empowerment. We bring women, girls, and their communities together to challenge inequality while facing issues like food insecurity, climate change, and emergency relief in times of crisis or disaster. CARE works in 100 countries around the world.

To learn more about CARE Canada, visit www.care.ca