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The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful reminder of our interconnectedness and vulnerability. The virus respects no borders, gender, religion or politics. And no one — no country, no industry — can fight this pandemic alone.
Now, more than ever, the power of partnership is clear. Through its pioneering work with The UPS Foundation, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, remains committed to helping countries reach every person in need of vaccines.
The pandemic’s health, societal and economic repercussions are readily apparent, and we expect more long-term effects across the globe. The world urgently needs a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine — the only sure way communities, businesses and societies will start to return to normal.
With more than 100 COVID-19 candidate vaccines undergoing development, the response from the scientific community and pharmaceutical industry has been unprecedented.
However, as scientists seek the fastest vaccine development and production in history, it will be critical to distribute medicines equitably around the world — until everyone is safe, no one is safe. To support this endeavor, Gavi will provide critical support to many countries to ensure vaccine availability as soon as possible, as widely as possible.
Since its establishment in 2000, Gavi has been working to immunize the children in the world’s poorest countries, and we have done so through effective partnerships across the public and private sector.
Working in collaboration with our partners, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, vaccine manufacturers and developed and developing countries alike, Gavi has immunized more than 760 million children and saved roughly 13 million lives in the process.
Gavi now supplies 600 million vaccine doses per year and has tremendous experience with new vaccine introductions, including the Ebola vaccine during the recent epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Even with widespread vaccine availability, however, vaccine delivery becomes impossible without trained healthcare workers and robust health systems. Effective distribution of COVID-19 vaccines demands the protection of healthcare workers and the maintenance of existing health systems and supply chains.
Since 2014, The UPS Foundation has been a key partner in Gavi’s effort to strengthen immunization supply chains in countries with underdeveloped health systems.
The partnership draws upon the resources, expertise and know-how of UPS to support Gavi’s program goals, as well as UPS’s strategic objectives. This “shared value” model acknowledges that for private sector engagement to be scalable and sustainable, there must be alignment between private and public sector incentives.
Having recognized the critical role of skilled and motivated personnel in maintaining effective supply chains, UPS and Gavi launched the Strategic Training Executive Programme (STEP) in 2015. This program now trains vaccine managers in 19 countries and counting.
There is no better example of the impact of collaboration than the extraordinary public-private partnership between the Ugandan Ministry of Health, Gavi, UPS and Freight in Time (FIT).
Thousands of children living in the densely populated districts of Wakiso, Nakaseke and Nakasongola in central Uganda don’t have access to life-saving vaccines due to the absence of reliable electricity, transportation and refrigeration. As a result, children there face the possibility of devastating preventable diseases such as measles, polio and tuberculosis.
Gavi’s work with UPS and FIT has improved public health. We have seen overall vaccine coverage grow by 33 percent in the Wakiso district. Polio vaccinations are up by more than 40 percent and measles vaccinations by 50 percent.
Overall we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of children that receive vaccines. And during the COVID-19 outbreak, this system is helping deliver essential personal protection equipment, sanitizer and, of course, vaccines to protect frontline workers and maintain the critical routine immunization system.
As a result, we will learn how to help other countries deliver life-saving vaccines to those in need.
As our world becomes ever more interconnected, pandemic risks increase. As COVID-19 has shown, infectious diseases can now travel faster and with greater ease than ever before, allowing a localized outbreak to quickly escalate into a global crisis.
While we cannot predict for certain where and when another pandemic will occur, we can prevent the resurgence of diseases that already have a safe and proven vaccine.
To do so, Gavi will need more partners like The UPS Foundation, who are willing to work across sectors and build resilient and agile supply chain systems, responding to changing needs and making the best of global expertise and leading innovations.
Gavi’s partnership with The UPS Foundation comes at a critical time — not only do we now need to help countries in the fight against coronavirus, but we also must immunize an additional 300 million children in the next five years.
Ambitious? Yes, but through the power of partnerships, we will succeed.
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