Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (361)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

361. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps Ireland is taking to work with international colleagues in the UK and EU and on the UN Security Council to support the call by the WHO for the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine globally to include persons living in areas of socioeconomic disadvantage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6452/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland is fully supporting efforts by the international community, including as an EU Member State, to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines for all. The Government quadrupled funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2020, given its role as lead UN agency for health and co-host of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which has the COVAX facility as a centerpiece. COVAX is supporting 92 low and middle-income countries access Covid-19 vaccines.

Vaccine supply constraints remain an issue, particularly for low-income countries. In response to this, the Irish Aid allocation to global health will increase to at least €50 million in 2021, to include support for global equitable access to vaccines through WHO and the COVAX facility.

Also included in this is funding of €15 million to the Global Fund to end AIDS, TB and Malaria, and €3 million to Gavi - supporting our partner multilateral agencies, sustaining health systems and ensuring attention to other diseases including HIV and AIDS, Malaria and TB. Ireland also continues to support key partner multilateral agencies, such as UNICEF and multilateral development banks, who are also playing an important part in the global response to the pandemic.

While the World Health Organisation is leading the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Security Council has a role to play in addressing the potential threats to international peace and security arising from the pandemic, as recognised in Security Council Resolution 2532 adopted last July. As Minister for Foreign Affairs I plan to participate in a meeting of the Security Council on COVID-19 on 17 February.

Irish Embassies in partner countries will in the meantime be working alongside the WHO and other health partners to support the vaccine roll-out effort, which will face further challenges given limited health systems capacity in many countries.