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ICRC Teams Up With Pasifika Artist To Amplify Vaccine Equity Message

“In the Pacific, it is common to invite a random passerby to share a meal. No matter how little that Pacific Islander may have or how hungry they may seem, we are all taught from a very young age to be considerate of others and to some extent, put the needs of others before ourselves. The same concept should be applied to accessibility of vaccines globally.”

These are the words of Pasifika artist Atueta Rabuka who has teamed up with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for the #ConsiderTheBiggerPicture campaign, calling for vaccine equity. Mr Rabuka believes that social media plays a huge role in influencing behaviors and that it is vital to utilize these platforms to make people aware of the lack of access to vaccines for people living in countries affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence.

“I join other artists in the region in initiating this conversation through our art on social media and hopefully we’re able to not only reach the youth but also key decision makers” said Mr. Rabuka.

The ICRC is appealing to states and pharmaceutical companies to address the glaring inequitable distribution and access to the COVID-19 vaccine alongside the unceasing global pandemic. As of 23 December 2021, 57% of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine but this percentage plummets to just 8.1% for people in low-income nations. For countries where people have already been long-suffering because of active armed conflict and other situations of violence, the inability to access the COVID-19 vaccine adds yet another layer to their complicated realities.

ICRC head of the regional delegation in the Pacific, Vincent Ochilet said that while it's good that a growing number of countries have finished double vaccinating the majority of their population and are now starting to administer boosters, this might make us forget that people in some countries are still waiting to access their first COVID-19 dose.

“This is particularly the case in communities already facing tremendous humanitarian hardship in armed conflict and other situations of violence. Only a small sliver of vaccines has reached conflict zones, where families and entire communities often live without access to basic health care services,” he added.

The ICRC estimates that more than 100 million people now live in areas under full or fluid control of non-state armed groups, often leaving communities out of reach of vaccination campaigns run by ministries of health.

“Increased priority to provide access to COVID-19 vaccines for people living in these remote and difficult to reach contexts of armed conflict or violence is crucial. Our aim is to help reach the populations in the ‘last mile’ where vaccine access is dire,” said Mr Ochilet.

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