Intervention of the Ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta to the United Nations in New York Paul Beresford–Hill during the High Level Thematic debate “Galvanising Momentum for Universal Vaccination”
Thursday January 13, 2022 – UN General Assembly, New York
“The Sovereign Order of Malta operates health care facilities and programs in over 120 nations. Increasingly our focus is on preventative health care, and we see in the COVID pandemic both the best and the worst global responses to the stated foremost priority of the 76th Session of the UN GA – Recovering from COVID-19. Delivering billions of vaccines to stop the spread of COVID-19 worldwide is one of the greatest challenges ever undertaken.
During the initial stages, the development of innovative COVID-19 vaccines which relied on new production techniques and expertise available in a few facilities globally added to supply side constraints. Furthermore, the growing need for booster doses to address the waning immunity and new variants is expected to further scale up global demand for vaccines. In addition to delivering vaccines, the full array of tools at our disposal must be utilized. These include training of health care workers and responders, alleviating distribution bottlenecks and sharing of best practices in all problem-solving areas related to the pandemic.
Among issues that must be resolved in order for a fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, particularly within poorer nations and among the impoverished, the elderly and migrants, are the following:
- We need to either a) upgrade the production of vaccines so they do not require the high level of cooling systems to extend their shelf life, or b) we need to improve the infrastructure of nations which lack the facilities to keep vaccines efficatious. Either way, this is an important priority.
- There is still the undeniable reality that in many countries more lives are being lost through a lack of food, clean water and nutrition than the absence of vaccines. Tackling these problems initially must be the focus of both the UN and international aid agencies.
- More needs to be done to ensure that migrants and those in refugee centers have access to vaccination in the same way that vaccination is available to the native populations.
I would also add that a serious difficulty, which has been noted by many commentators in the media and via aid agencies, is the frustrating and sometimes disastrous levels of bureaucracy, regulatory excess and, sadly, sometimes outright corruption, which delays and stymies the import of vaccines into countries that most need them”.