September 16, 2019
 In Vaccine Equity and Access

Country: Tunisia
Delegate Name: Shriya Reddy

Vaccines are important because they have the ability to improve immunity of a disease without exposing anyone to the danger of the disease and the access of them are equally as important because it can insure better protection for vulnerable populations. There is a severe increase in death rates because wealthier countries have access to the vaccine and are not sharing the access to the impoverished countries. July 2021, many officials warned people that the health system was close to collapse due to an acute wave of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Government officials suspended all travel, imposed mandatory confinement, and banned public gatherings. The World Health Organization is tasked with expanding vaccine education, data-sharing, and vaccine distribution.

Tunisia is suffering tremendously from the Covid-19 outbreak because of the lack of access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Tunisia has reported Africa’s highest per-capita infection rates.
The vast majority of the Tunisian population remains unvaccinated and individuals with a high risk of contracting COVID-19 are left unprotected. By placing health workers and people above the age of 60 in the first priority group, people who didn’t fit the requirement suffered immensely. For example, people below the age of 60 who are extremely vulnerable because they suffer from chronic diseases, people who live in poverty, people who have disabilities, homeless people or prisoners, and people who don’t have access to healthcare services have higher risks of experiencing death or severe illness as a result from contracting COVID-19. Furthermore, there was a serious problem with public trust regarding the distribution of vaccines equally. In April 2021, Mofdi Mseddi, the advisor to the Prime Minister in Tunisia, admitted that several ministers had been vaccinated without being eligible, and in order to be eligible at that time, people had to be older than 60 years of age or they had to be a healthcare worker. This made the public start to question the government’s motives. They wondered if they would distribute the vaccines fairly without political interference. They also called into question the government’s commitment to prioritize those most at-risk and to guarantee all people’s right to health.

Tunisia was one of the first countries in the Middle East and North Africa to successfully contain the coronavirus outbreak. Tunisia’s success in dealing with the pandemic can be attributed to a combination of factors including an effective government response, citizens’ trust in the government, a relatively strong healthcare system, and public awareness of the dangers of the virus. Tunisia wants all countries to be given the same vaccine and they should all have equal access. Tunisia should publish data that is disaggregated in a transparent and accessible manner because the lack of transparency of vaccination prioritization makes citizens perceive it as favoritism. A deficit of public trust can turn into increased vaccine hesitancy.

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