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Ford Foundation takes steps to halt vaccine inequalities, ensure free access

by Haruna Gimba
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By Zayamu Hassan

The Ford Foundation has announced a special initiative to further global vaccine access and tackle the structural inequities that continue to hinder equal access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly in the Global South.

The initiative, according to a statement made available to Health Reporters, will support the critical work of advocacy organizations calling for urgent interventions by world leaders ahead of the G20 Summit.

Ford’s wide range of commitments include signing onto a global effort to advocate for equal and fair access to vaccines through the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coordinated advocacy campaign to combat vaccine hesitancy and support vaccine access.

According to the Ford Foundation President, Darren Walker: “The pandemic has uncovered deep structural inequities in our global systems, and people will continue to needlessly die of this virus until we make lasting, meaningful change. Inaction is not an option.

 “We are proud to join other global funders to shine a light on the systems that are at the root of this crisis, and to make these critical investments in organizations working on the front lines of vaccine equity in the parts of the world that need it most.”

“We have the tools to ensure everyone is protected from COVID-19, but across the world we’re seeing that the most vulnerable people are continuing to suffer.

Overcoming this crisis means removing the barriers standing between people and the vital facts and services they need to keep themselves and their communities safe,” said Charlize Theron.

“Education is the first step to ending vaccine hesitancy, and CTAOP and I are thrilled to partner with the Ford Foundation to raise awareness around this issue and provide much needed support to the groups, particularly at the community level, who are working to end this pandemic.”

Ford’s additional $16 million in grant making aims to bolster international, regional, and local organizations working toward immediate interventions and advocacy to achieve a global vaccination rate of 70 per cent within the next 12 months, and toward long-term thinking to reimagine global systems of intellectual property and financing to ensure that the world responds more equitably to future global pandemics.

These investments will augment the work of non-profits in the Global South on the frontlines of international vaccine equity.

It includes funding for grantees such as the Africa CDC, Third World Network, Oxfam America for work in Latin America and in the Middle East and North Africa, Frontline AIDS for People’s Vaccine Alliance, and Equal International to support global public investment that are working toward equitable vaccine distribution around the world, and on the frontlines of research and advocacy.

These funds will also support civil society and historically marginalized groups to monitor vaccine distribution for equity and inclusion, overcome vaccine hesitancy, and advocate for structural change.

Ford’s funding will focus on supporting advocacy in three main issue areas including structural changes to ensure equitable vaccine distribution for marginalized groups, including overcoming vaccine hesitancy and fighting discrimination; raising awareness on the inequities of global intellectual property policies that prevent widespread production of vaccines and other critical medicines.

It is also advocating for a waiver to the World Trade Organization (WTO) TRIPS Agreement and rethinking how global public goods like vaccines are financed, shifting from a charity model where wealthy nations control the vast majority of the world’s medicines supply.

 “Vaccine apartheid is killing thousands daily. Pharmaceutical monopolies and the failure to share successful vaccine recipes with manufacturers all over the world means billions are facing this killer disease unprotected. This is particularly the most vulnerable and marginalized communities among us. The world needs a People’s Vaccine, not a profit vaccine.

“We are proud that the Ford Foundation is joining us all in the fight against this appalling vaccine inequality,” said Max Lawson, Chair of the Peoples Vaccine Alliance.

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