WEBINAR INVITE: Ensuring the Covid-19 Vaccine Reaches Undocumented Migrants

Featured image sourced from the World Health Summit 2021 website.

The M8 Alliance of Academic Health Centres, Universities and National Academies has put ‘Migrant and Refugee Health’ on the agenda of the World Health Summit since 2015. In 2017, the M8 Alliance held their first expert meeting on this issue in Rome, attended by participants from around the world. Since then annual follow-up meetings were established.

In 2021 a webinar series was established: Migrant Health Issues in Massive Migration Areas in the Covid Period. The M8 Alliance Webinar Series on Migrant and Refugee Health, is a new format which aims at bringing together experts from across the M8 Alliance to discuss global, develop innovative and collaborative answers and promote science-based policy advice. Each lecture will last 90 minutes and different speakers from within the M8 Alliance and beyond.

The great hope for finally gaining control of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the development of an effective vaccine. Optimism and excitement therefore accompanied announcement at the end of 2020 of the first approvals and deployment of a vaccine against Covid-19 by national health authorities. Significant investment of resources has been made by governments and private companies in the development of these vaccines, which is beginning to bear fruit, and attention has turned to the extraordinary task of ensuring distribution to the population, recognising that even the most effective vaccine cannot be fully protective without near-universal uptake.

Yet some segments of the population already had limited access to mainstream health systems, both prior to as well as during the pandemic. People with irregular status are among those who face extremely high barriers in accessing both preventative and curative health care due to a range of practical and systemic factors that drive exclusion, including fears that their personal data would be transmitted to immigration authorities. Undocumented people have often been at great risk of infection due to their role as “essential workers” who lack protective equipment and have been largely left out of social protection measures granted by governments to their populations during successive lockdowns. A sound public health approach ensures that the entire population can benefit from measures such as vaccines. International and European standards are calling for such inclusive approaches. But what steps must be taken to ensure that this happens in practice? This event gathers national and European level experts to consider this critical question.

Date: 30 March 2021
Time: 15:00 – 16:30 CET
Registration link: https://worldhealthsummit.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_xSgSaaHZSI-x9L0D0PD5Hg

maHp/ACMS director Professor Jo Vearey will be part of this online panel discussion, presenting a paper titled, ‘Firewalls and border walls: protecting undocumented migrants is essential if South Africa’s (anticipated) Covid-19 vaccination programme is to succeed’. For more about their paper and the other panellists’, see the full programme here.

This webinar is co-organised by the M8 Alliance and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM).