UN agencies extend support to India’s Covid-19 vaccine drive

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on January 20, 2021

Highlight 3 Ws — Wear a mask, Wash your hands, Watch your distance

United Nations agencies have extended their support to the ongoing vaccination drive in India against the Covid-19.

Roderico H Ofrin, WHO Representative in India, said: “(We) provided technical assistance to the Government of India for the development of operational guidelines and other training materials for state and district programme managers and vaccinators and establishing tracking and accountability frameworks.”

Also read: Covid-19 ‘vaccinationalism’ self-defeating; will delay global recovery: UN Secretary

“WHO field officers have facilitated the highest-level oversight through regular task force meetings at state and district levels, which are chaired by the Principal Secretaries (Health) at the state level, and District Magistrates at the district level.” he added.

According to the UN News report, an estimated one crore health workers are targeted to be vaccinated in the first round in India. This will be followed by vaccinating other front-line workers, including police, security forces and municipal staff. The country has planned to inoculate 300 million people by August.

UN agencies claimed that prior to the start of the campaign, they helped India with detailed preparations.

For its part, WHO participated in dry-run simulations and provided feedback on the management of vaccines, registration of beneficiaries, as well as reporting on vaccination coverage and adverse events following immunisation, UN mentioned in their report.

It also worked with the government and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) on real-time reporting and problem-solving when issues arose at the vaccination sites, according to Dr Ofrin.

At the provincial level, WHO also supported implementation and monitoring of health policy, such as developing standard operating procedures, preparing technical briefs, and providing best practices from other parts of India as well as other countries.

Similarly, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stated that it has supported communication and advocacy efforts to ensure the dissemination of factual information to stakeholders and communities in the country. The agency also helped train healthcare staff in infection control and prevention, and psycho-social support to children and caregivers.

Aside from directly supporting vaccine rollout, UN agencies continued their programmes to assist the most vulnerable communities impacted by Covid-19 and its socio-economic fallouts.

This includes running the UN World Food Programme (WFP) that supported NGOs in order to identify and register some 19,000 vulnerable households and distributed food packets. While the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) conducted awareness-raising programmes on sexual and reproductive health, and prevention of gender-based violence, on behalf of some three crore vulnerable individuals.

Remembering the Three Ws

Meanwhile, WHO’s Dr Ofrin urged continued vigilance over tracking cases, cluster investigation, isolation and clinical care, and quarantining to break the chain of transmission.

He highlighted the “three W’s – Wear a mask; Wash your hands; Watch your distance.”

“These efforts must continue to stop the spread of Covid-19. We as individuals and communities must work with the government to save lives and the economy by protecting health and livelihoods,” he added.

Published on January 20, 2021

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