Updates from the field #43: Addressing multiple impacts of the pandemic
The UN country teams continue their efforts to provide local and national authorities worldwide support in the fight against COVID-19. Today, we highlight some of those efforts:
Algeria is enacting stricter prevention measures and accelerating vaccination, while facing an increased number of new COVID-19 infections. The UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Eric Overvest, has been supporting authorities on a multifaceted response and the COVAX facility has delivered 1 million vaccines so far. As of mid July, around US $60 million of funding support has been channeled through the UN System. The WHO is providing technical support on prevention and treatment to the Ministry of Health, with more than 6,000 health workers participating in related training sessions, while the UNDP has been working with partners to boost health response capacity. For its part, UNICEF is supporting the government in the creation of an Internet platform to monitor and supervise the on-going vaccination campaign. UNODC, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNHCR, and IOM are also providing outreach materials and personal protection equipment to vulnerable groups, including refugees and migrants.
Bhutan is continuing its vaccination campaign. Ahead of a nationwide roll-out of the second dose and as part of a heterologous (mix-and-match) approach, more than 600 people received the Moderna booster vaccine, including the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the National Assembly, some members of Parliament, and other senior government officials Authorities also started registering people over 11 years old and those who had not registered during the first round of the vaccination through the Bhutan Vaccination System. The country is aiming to be one of the first in the world to vaccinate its entire eligible population with both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the month. The UN country team is providing support to the government, with UNICEF assisting in fast-tracking the second shipment of vaccines and WHO providing more than US $300,0000 for the second dose roll-out campaign for logistics and other support costs. The UN is also strengthening the cold chain system to store the vaccines.
The UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Silvia Rucks, is continuing to support local and national authorities in addressing the multiple impacts of the pandemic, especially focusing on indigenous people in the Amazon region. UN Women is boosting access to emergency care as well as medical and protective equipment, to indigenous organizations, while UNICEF has distributed cleaning and sanitation kits to indigenous communities in the Sustainable Development Reserves. Also, the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) delivered more than 1.5 million personal protective equipment purchased by local health authorities in the Amazon region. And the IOM provided more than 2,700 medical consultations, shelters and mental health support for migrants and host communities through mobile health units and reception centres. UN Women, in partnership with UNFPA and UNHCR, launched a campaign in Portuguese, Spanish and indigenous languages to boost women’s awareness about their rights and services available to them in face of increasing cases of violence against women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially due to a spike in violence reported in indigenous communities.
Libya has imposed new preventive measures against the COVID-19 pandemic as the daily rate of infection continues to rise in the country. Authorities closed all public and private offices and entities for two weeks. In mid July, nearly 2,700 new COVID-19 cases were reported after over 6,700 samples were tested, pushing the daily rate of infections to nearly 40 per cent, the highest since the first case was detected in March 2020. Of the more than 670,000 vaccine doses that were delivered to the country, more than 430,000 have been administered so far. UNICEF supported health authorities to train 90 vaccine supervisors on cold chain and vaccine management and is carrying out a vaccination campaign with the national emergency team. For its part, IOM is helping authorities implement surveys on mobility restrictions and vulnerabilities, training laboratory workers and health care providers to reduce virus transmission.
In Malawi, where COVID-19 infections have sharply increased since June, authorities have reintroduced safety measures, restricting travel, public gatherings and people’s interactions, regulating the conduct of businesses to reduce the spread of the virus. Our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Torres Macho, continues to work with authorities to support the response to the multiple impacts of the pandemic. Faced with COVID-19 vaccine shortage, the WHO and UNICEF are facilitating the delivery of the remaining 900,000 vaccine doses via COVAX. The World Bank has approved US$30 million to purchase and deploy additional COVID-19 vaccines in the country. WHO and UNICEF are also supporting health authorities to intensify the screening of travelers, testing and contact-tracing. More than 9,400 additional testing kits were also delivered. Also, UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNDP and FAO are promoting prevention measures through various communication and community engagement approaches. To cushion the pandemic’s economic impact, cash transfers, supported by UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP), have reached more than 106,000 most vulnerable, including people with disabilities, the elderly, and children living and working on the streets.
We have an update from Sierra Leone, where the number of people infected by COVID-19 has increased as of early July– from more than 20 confirmed cases on 24 May to more than 600 confirmed cases on 21 June. The UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Babatunde Ahonsi, is supporting authorities to address the wider impacts of the pandemic, with an immediate boost to the health response, mobilizing treatment and quarantine centres, while increasing risk communications and social mobilization, with UNICEF playing a crucial role. For its part, WHO is leading the health emergency response and providing technical advice to the authorities’ response. Increasing vaccine coverage is critical now and our UN team continues calling on global solidarity to increase the vaccine supply, given that as of early July more than 225,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered, in a country of more than 7.8 million people. Also, the World Bank has approved an US$8.5 million grant in additional financing to support affordable and equitable access to vaccines. The UN team stresses that oxygen supply remains an immediate priority as there is only one oxygen plant working in the country.
Tunisia recorded 7,878 new COVID-19 cases on July 14th, 2021, with 164 new deaths. Hospitals face huge pressure, exceeded their occupation capacity in several regions. The occupancy rate of the oxygen beds is 88,3 percent. Health authorities are working to intensify PCR tests, increase the capacity of hospitals, supply them with oxygen and speed up vaccination of the entire population. So far, only 728,004 people are fully vaccinated, with the country using AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sinovac, and Sputnik V vaccines. The UN in Tunisia is mobilizing to support the government and meet the urgent needs of health systems. WHO has mobilized US$8 million to help authorities strengthen the hospital system, equip laboratories, provide personal protective equipment and diagnostic kits. For its part, UNICEF has been providing protective equipment to public schools, while working together to make vaccines available and provide social assistance to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable families. The World Bank has approved an emergency loan of US $100 million to support the purchase of vaccines and medical equipment. As part of the loan, US $20 million has been already disbursed to procure COVID-19 test kits and other medical supplies.
In the first week of July, Zimbabwe announced a two-week lockdown to curb the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, with the country reporting over 4,600 COVID-19 cases last week, a 156-per cent weekly increase.
The UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Maria Ribeiro, has been intensifying support to the national COVID-19 response efforts, including WHO, which while ensuring the delivery of essential health care services is working on strengthening prevention and response capacities at community levels with a special focus on hotspot areas while improving access to oxygen and intensive care units for severe cases. For its part, UNICEF continues to deliver medical, protective, and sanitizing equipment and supplies to health care workers, schools, and communities.
On the socio-economic front, WFP has been providing 326,000 people across 23 urban areas with cash assistance to ensure vulnerable households meet their immediate food needs during the lockdown, while IOM is supporting operations at points of entry attended by health staff equipped with hand washing stations and isolation tents for COVID-19 screening.
The UN team is also boosting risk communications support to mobilize communities across 62 districts on COVID-19 prevention and vaccine uptake.
COVAX Facility Updates
Bhutan received 500,000 doses of Moderna vaccine from the USA, 121,900 doses of AstraZeneca from Denmark, over 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca from Croatia, Bulgaria and other European countries, 5,850 doses of Pfizer from the COVAX facility and 50,000 doses of Sinopharm from China. The government has also ordered 200,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for the younger population, which is expected to arrive at the end of this year.
El Salvador received 1.5 million doses of [Moderna] COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Government of the United States through the COVAX Facility in early July. With this additional donation, the COVAX mechanism has now delivered more than 1,9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the country. El Salvador is one of 14 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean receiving vaccines donated by the United States via COVAX. Our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Birgit Gerstenberg, continues supporting authorities to address the multiple impacts of the pandemic.
On 22 July, El Salvador received 1.5 million doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, as part of a second shipment from the United States through the COVAX mechanism. With this delivery, the country has received 3,417,480 doses of COVID-19 vaccines via COVAX.
Honduras received 1.5 million doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Government of the United States through the COVAX Facility early this month. Honduras is the first of 14 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean receiving vaccines donated by the United States through COVAX. With this shipment, the country has now received a total of more than1,9 million doses of vaccines through COVAX as of early July. President Juan Orlando Hernandez hailed the arrival as a result of “effective multilateralism, which he said is the most effective way to close the gap that separates developed and developing countries”. He added that this arrival of vaccines brings back hope and trust to millions of people in Honduras and clearly conveys the benefits of international organizations. Honduras aims to vaccinate more than 7 million people above the age of 12. PAHO worked with the Governments of the United States and Honduras on the logistical arrangements for the safe arrival of the vaccines. Piedad Huerta, the Representative of PAHO in Honduras, thanked the United States for the generous donation via COVAX and said she hoped this would encourage other world leaders to boost solidarity to fight the pandemic, donating more doses of vaccines via COVAX, since no one is safe until everyone is safe.
In mid July, more than 150,000 doses of [Janssen/Johnson & Johnson] vaccines landed in Moldova through the COVAX Facility. This is part of the half a million doses expected to arrive in the country through COVAX, as a donation from the Government of the United States. With this new batch, as of the delivery the total number of doses received in the country through COVAX totals more than 380,000 vaccines. The UN team in Moldova, led by Resident Coordinator Simon Springett, has supported the national vaccination campaign since its launch in February 2021, with the WHO and UNICEF playing a key role. Around 12 per cent of the country’s 2.6 million population have been fully vaccinated. A recent survey carried out by WHO and authorities showed that nearly 60 per cent of citizens are willing to be immunized against COVID-19. That is a considerable – and welcome – increase compared to the 31 per cent figure from a November 2020 survey.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Bolivia received on Sunday over a million doses of Janssen from Johnson & Johnson donated by the Government of the United States through the COVAX Facility. Bolivia is one of 14 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean receiving vaccines donated by the United States through COVAX. With this shipment, the country has now received a total of 1.429,000 million doses of vaccines through COVAX. UN Bolivia through WHO/PAHO and UNICEF worked with the Governments of Bolivia and United States on the logistical arrangements for the safe arrival of the vaccines. "We are pleased with the arrival of the Janssen vaccine, which will allow us to cover 1 million people in Bolivia. Due to its ease of handling, we are confident that it can be distributed in all the country's vaccination networks, in addition to mass vaccination points," said PAHO/WHO Representative a.i. in Bolivia Dr. Julio Pedroza.
Over half a million doses of COVAX-backed [Moderna] vaccines arrived in Haiti on in mid July, donated by the Government of the United States. Large-scale vaccination operations in Haiti will begin shortly. Health personnel, the elderly and people with comorbidities will be vaccinated first. Access will then be extended to all people who are willing to be vaccinated. In addition to the existing storage capacity to receive the vaccines, the Government of Haiti also received a special freezer donation last week to increase its storage capacity for certain vaccines, which require a very low temperature, minus 80 degrees Celsius.
Brazil and Ecuador
In Brazil, PAHO announced that a new batch of 1,036,800 AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX on July 22nd. To date, the country has received 6,952,800 vaccines – 6,110,400 AstraZeneca/Oxford and 842,400 Pfizer/BioNTech – since March this year. Brazil is one of the COVAX self-financed countries, where vaccines are purchased with resources from the Brazilian Ministry of Health.
Moving to Ecuador and as announced by the Vice President, more than 379,000 doses of COVID vaccines arrived in Ecuador, with a new shipment of Pfizer vaccines arriving on 14 July at Mariscal Sucre international airport in Quito through the COVAX facility for the first time. The vice-presidency is coordinating a 9/100 vaccination initiative, aiming to immunize 9 million people in 100 days. To date, more than 1.8 million people have been fully immunised, and more than 4.1 million people received their first doses.
Chile - Constitution
Our UN team in Chile welcomed the installation of a new constitutional body and congratulated its elected constituents who have begun the historic work of drafting a new “magna carta” for the country. Our UN team also hailed the delegates’ election of an indigenous [Mapuche] woman to lead this process. Following its approval through a plebiscite, this new constitution will replace the previous one, which dates from the period of the military regime [1973-1990]. Our UN team stressed that the development of a new constitution is an opportunity to reaffirm Chile’s commitments, including around human rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Our UN team reiterates that its agencies, funds and programmes remain available to serve and support this historic process in Chile.
Madagascar - Food Security
The UN team in Madagascar, together with government and development partners, visited the south of the country from 12 to 17 July, where climate crises have aggravated the devastating impact of cyclic drought, causing chronic food insecurity. The team met with local authorities and communities, including those in an area classified as famine, to monitor ongoing emergency interventions and discuss sustainable solutions. To boost support to the most vulnerable, Resident Coordinator Issa Sanogo called on donors and humanitarian actors to contribute to an integrated intervention package by scaling up mobile services for the treatment of malnutrition, reproductive health, and sensitization against gender-based violence. He stressed the urgent need to provide vaccination for children, facilitate access to drinking water and food, while protecting livelihoods and conducting activities on environment conservation that can reduce the impacts of sandstorms affecting the region. The UN in Madagascar has been working with government and other partners to bring humanitarian support to more than 1.3 million people affected by the crisis, while providing on-going support on sustainable development and peace in the region.
To learn more about the results of our work in this area and beyond, please visit the UNSDG Chair Report on DCO.