Dialogue on Inequality and Access to COVID-19 Vaccine

Nepali Civil Society and NGOs have been campaigning against inequality every year. KIRDARC is also the part of campaign against inequality. The campaign have been using different means and methods to shed light upon the various inequality and discriminations that exist in the societies. Most often, the inequalities have been presenting by means of painting and sketches, discussion and dialogues, and casting the videos on the issues of discriminations and inequalities. Besides, it has been presenting some study-papers on inequality and discriminations to concern governmental organizations and development partners for the minimization or eradication of the inequality and discriminations exist in the societies.  

The Campaign Against Inequality has been conducting with series of activities every year. This year, the Dialogue Program on Inequality and Access to COVID-19 Vaccine as one of the parts of the Campaign Against Inequality was organized on 25 January, 2021 virtually in coordination of Campaign Against Inequality in the participation of the government officials, human rights activists, policy-makers, social activists, women rights activists, etc. The program was moderated by Geeta Pandey from KIRDARC on behalf of the campaign. Mr. Bidur Subedi delivered his welcome remarks.

The Public Health Expert, Mr. Suresh Gautam opined that the present context in regard of COVID-19 has generated two messages: one is either peoples might have felt that the COVID-19 has not its effect anymore, other is, or COVID-19 is assumed that it will spread faster than ever before in the community as peoples have not taking necessary measures. Whatever, he said that the decreasing rate of the COVID-19 has spread the new hope in the peoples. He also told that the COVID-19 producer countries have seen in the mentality that unless they complete the vaccination in its country they do not supply the vaccine to the other country. This thinking and understanding will not be helpful to contain the COVID-19. He presented an instance that the Reliance Company in India has booked COVID-19 vaccine for its employ at the rate of 12$ per Vaccine. Whereas, the Government of India has booked at the rate of 3.3$ per vaccine. That’s why, he said it will be high time to regulate the market price of the vaccine. Otherwise, such kind of reserving and booking would adversely affect the justifiable distribution and supply of the vaccine.

Jageshwor Gautam, Spokesperson of Ministry of Health and Population expressed his gratitude and thankfulness to all the persons who worked around the clock with high spirit to investigate and production of the COVID-19 vaccine to get rid from the threats to humanity caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that the children comprise a high population of the total population. Therefore, their access to vaccine has to be ensured. Likewise, he said that the such vaccine is to be produced so as to the lactating, and pregnant women can be vaccinated on the supervision or suggestion of the health practitioners. He informed that the Government of Nepal has received some batches of vaccines and it has been planning to receive and manage the required vaccines. It would be better if the laboratory had established in different places and produce required number of vaccines timely, he said.

Ms.Renu Adhikary, women rights activist focused on the social determinants of public health system to contain the pandemic. Unless the peoples working in the informal sectors, entertainment sectors, domestic workers, sex workers are ensured to be safe from the virus, it is impossible to contain the pandemic. Therefore, it has to human security strategy of public health system should be strengthened. The CSOs can take some stakes in the direction to strengthen the human security strategy of public health system. She suggested Health Research Council should work to study on the side effects of the COVID vaccine.

Mr. Jit Ram Lama, NFN President suggested to keep the elderly peoples, social workers and children in the priority list to receive the vaccine. The CSOs can work in social mobilization and awareness raising program to contain the pandemic. He said there won’t be much donation to the COVID Relief Fund. Rather, the GoN can specify the specification of the vaccines and accordingly the CSOs can supply in coordination of GoN. Mr. Bhakta BK concluded the program saying that the in the name of the prioritization the peoples in the margin would not be deprived of vaccination for long time.


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