By Marta Guglielmetti, Executive Director, Global Solidarity Fund
Yesterday, May 27, the Global Solidarity Fund hosted the “Vaccines for All” high-level roundtable. The roundtable proved to be a truly remarkable event. Representatives from the Catholic Church, influential philanthropies, leading corporations, and International Organizations gathered to share lessons learnt and define areas of powerful collaboration for an equitable distribution of Vaccines.
It was a powerful example of GSF in action!
Cardinal Peter Turkson from the Vatican, Sr. Patricia Murray representing more than 700,000 sisters around the globe, Guillaume Grosso from GAVI, Joe Cerrell from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rebecca Marmot from Unilever, Charlotte Kirby from Salesforce and Thomas Ellmann from DHL, all called for a need to unify knowledge, expertise, networks, resources and creativity to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic and create a more equitable world in the aftermath of this health crisis. Thank you again to our distinguished speakers and all of you who attended the event on the digital platform.
One message emerged clearly from yesterday’s discussion: high-level global partnerships are the key for success.
To secure an equitable and inclusive vaccine campaign, we need to create innovative alliances. When we work together, our voices advocating to governments and world leaders have more impact, new mechanisms for equitable implementation are more effective, bottlenecks in areas such as production, logistics, data sharing and counteracting vaccine hesitancy are overcome, and resources to secure an equitable distribution of vaccines leaving no one behind suddenly become available.
The irreplaceable role of faith-based organizations and the Catholic Church was spelled out clearly! With no exception or hesitation, Charlotte, Joe, Rebecca, Guillaume and Thomas stated the importance of faith-based action. Its role is essential for counteracting vaccine hesitancy. And it was not just about rhetoric. I encourage you to watch the conversation on the Global Solidarity Fund YouTube Channel to hear truly inspirational examples of how companies and International Organizations can effectively partner with faith-based organizations.
The timing of our roundtable was just right. On May 21, the G20 convened an extraordinary Global Health Summit, at which governments were able to agree upon the Rome Declaration. It sets forth 16 principles to increase vaccine access globally, as well as commitments to deliver in specified areas by the Rome G20 Summit at the end of October. The momentum created by the Declaration was carried forward at this week’s 74th World Health Assembly, with widespread commitment to rapid progress on making vaccines available to people of all countries. Both G20 leaders and the WHA participants highlighted again the vital role of public-private partnership and the necessity to engage local communities.
Yesterday’s roundtable provided some concrete, fact-based answers to the issues raised during the G20 Health Global Summit and WHA events. In the first panel, our speakers addressed the need to build trust in the vaccine.
All our speakers recognized the challenges posed by vaccine misinformation and hesitancy. The Catholic Church has a unique global network, and it has produced a toolkit that can be used to address the concerns of churchgoers. From the perspective of one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies, Rebecca explained Unilever’s efforts to partner with governments and development actors, as well as educating and equipping the vast number of people it connects with through its supply chains. Joe drew on the Gates Foundation’s long experience in supporting vaccine scale-up – including in situations where faith issues provided significant barriers – to share lessons learned through successful collaboration.
In the second panel, our speakers discussed the issue of distributing the vaccine to people who are marginalized.
Gavi is a living example of global partnership. It plays a pivotal role through the Covax initiative, which seeks to provide at least 2 billion vaccines equitably by the end of 2021, and Guillaume provided an insight on the role of Gavi’s partners in this global collaboration. Representing one of these partners, Charlotte talked about Salesforce’s creation of the “Work.com for Vaccines” platform to help Covax to manage information and track global data, helping to ensure that vaccines reach all those who are in need. Thomas pointed out the contribution of DHL, which has delivered over 200 million vaccine doses internationally, developed over 10 new and dedicated services, and served over 120 countries, as a partner of the Covid-19 Private Sector Global Facility. Reminding us of the unique role of faith communities, Sister Patricia spotlighted the deep roots of more than 700,000 Catholic Sisters in communities of need and their part in tailoring vaccine outreach to address the special challenges of those on the margins.
Yesterday’s roundtable reflects the Global Solidarity Fund’s unique nature as a catalytic actor. We are facilitating dialogue and partnership to seek systemic changes to improve the life of the most marginalized. Consistently with the GSF vision, we will build from this dialogue and as follow-up, we will immediately activate concrete action addressing vaccine hesitancy through information and training, collaborating on advocacy around Covax and other efforts, and opportunities for businesses to work with their employees around vaccine uptake and promotion together with faith-based leaders and organizations globally and on the front lines.
We showed that there is great potential for wider partnerships on these issues and many more. I invite you to reach out to us with your ideas, visions, and even challenges. This is also an opportunity to learn more about GSF (here is our website). Stay tuned for our initiatives, including our next roundtable focused on innovative solutions for jobs for migrants and refugees, which will take place on June 30.
Thank you and we look forward to receiving your inputs and ideas!