GENERAL Brian Peddle, the leader of the worldwide Salvation Army, has become the latest global leader to sign the World Health Organization (WHO) Vaccine Equity Declaration. Adding his name to the document on 2 March 2021, the General gives thanks to God for the vaccine which he describes as an ‘answer to prayer’. But he adds: ‘We know that not every country [yet] has access to the vaccine. Challenges of cost and logistics must still be overcome. And we continue, then, to pray for justice and the fair distribution of vaccines around the world.’
The Vaccine Equity Declaration was created after an announcement on 18 January by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (WHO Director-General) that ‘the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure – and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries’. The Salvation Army is supporting the WHO call for all governments to work together in solidarity – and in each of their best interests – to ensure that, within the first 100 days of the year, vaccination of health workers and older people is underway in all countries.
Individuals are also encouraged to add their voices to the campaign. The WHO petition can be signed at https://www.who.int/campaigns/annual-theme/year-of-health-and-care-workers-2021/vaccine-equity-declaration
The declaration will be sent to countries and companies to ensure that, by World Health Day on 7 April, COVID-19 vaccines are being administered in every country, as a symbol of hope for overcoming both the pandemic and the inequalities that lie at the root of so many global health challenges.
The endorsement of the WHO Vaccine Equity Campaign coincides with the publication of Salvation Army public health messaging posters in more than a dozen languages and the release of a video message co-presented by the General and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, World President of Women’s Ministries. The movement’s international leaders reflect on how COVID-19 can be overcome ‘together’, and exhort Salvationists and friends to receive the inoculation when they are offered the opportunity in their own country.
‘Together, we have uplifted one another,’ notes the General. ‘Together, we have prayed. Together, we have changed our behaviour to reduce the spread of the virus. We’ve washed our hands, kept space between us and worn face coverings.’
‘Now, there is a new measure we can take to protect each other, together,’ says Commissioner Rosalie. ‘We can get the vaccine.’
‘We are thankful to God for the way scientists and researchers have worked to develop these inoculations,’ she adds. ‘They are safe. They have been thoroughly tested. And they offer protection against the virus.’
The General concludes: ‘We urge you to get [the vaccination] when it becomes available in your country, as you’re invited to do so. We believe that getting the vaccine is a way for all of us to show our love for each other, keep each other safe, and then, together, we can beat COVID-19.’