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Good morning, Pokuaa here with today’s global health news. To kick us off, Israel’s vaccination campaign has been hailed as widely successful, immunising more than half of its population. Yet human rights activists have condemned its government for leaving Palestinians behind, calling this a ‘vaccine apartheid’.

Taking precautionary measures, countries around the world halt the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca doses even as health experts say they are “firmly convinced” of the benefits of the drug. Meanwhile, as talks of digitised vaccine passports are underway, Switzerland still seems hesitant to dip its toes into the digitisation pool.

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Pokuaa Oduro-Bonsrah,

18.03.2021


Global health news


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An Israeli soldier checks the documents of Palestinians who work in Israel as they line up to receive their first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a coronavirus vaccination center. (credit: AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

🛑 Human rights defenders call for end to Israel vaccine apartheid. In an event held in parallel to the UN Human Rights Council’s 46th session, human rights advocates highlighted the stark inequalities between the vaccinated Israeli population and Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

⏯️ AstraZeneca on pause despite WHO go-ahead. As increasing numbers of countries suspend the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine over blood clot concerns, a World Health Organization (WHO) panel on Wednesday reiterated that the benefits outweigh its risks. Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will publish the findings of its investigation today.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

📱 How vaccine passports may make Swiss e-ID rejection obsolete. As more countries see the benefits of digitising documents, including vaccine passports, other countries like Switzerland may have to get with the programme and embrace the benefits of e-ID, says Ian Richards of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Swissinfo (EN)

Here’s what else is happening


Image of the day


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Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (L) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (R) listen as US Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks on the American Rescue Plan. (Credit: Keystone)

Vice president Harris adress to UN on women’s health. In her debut speech to the United Nations, vice president Kamala Harris declared “the status of women is the status of democracy.” Pointing to the pandemic's effects on women's lives, she said: “Covid-19 has threatened the economic security, the physical security, and the health of women everywhere” calling for structural socio-economic improvements. This comes as welcomed news as the previous administration under Donald Trump led a push at the UN against the promotion of women's sexual and reproductive rights and health.

CNN (EN)

Next on the agenda


📍 18 March | Launch of the first UN global report on ageism. Kicking off this joint global conversation, the World Health Organization and its partners will launch the first UN global report on ageism. The discussion aims to challenge the disparaging views about age, whilst offering solutions to tackle ageism.

WHO (EN)

📍18 March | Vaccines and critical goods: production, distribution and trade policies. As several vaccines are being developed against Covid-19, this discussion hopes to address the longer term question of increasing coherence between health and trade policies to ensure that governments have efficient and flexible responses to future health crises.

WTO (EN)

Number of the day


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Sustained decrease in Covid-19 deaths. The World Health Organization announced a three per cent decrease in coronavirus deaths between Tuesday evening and Sunday morning last week, bringing the total to 58,000. This news, however, is counteracted with the number of new contaminations exceeding three million which has not happened for a few weeks.

RTS (EN)

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