15 Apr 2022

Vaccines to vaccinations: Gender in Promoting Immunisation

LCGGH and Gender & Health Hub
LCGGH and Gender & Health Hub
Fri 29 Apr 2022
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm
What you'll learn

The COVID-19 pandemic provides a stark illustration of disparities. In this session, we will review the cost of gender inequity in the COVID-19 response, focusing on vaccination. More than a year into COVID-19 vaccine deployment, less than 50 countries are regularly reporting gender-disaggregated data. In this panel, we will hear from vaccination experts who discuss issues ranging from policy to practice. We will focus on the issues related to data reporting and collection, why international agencies are not mandating gender-disaggregated data, and what strategies could be used to change that. 

We will also unpack some of the reasons for gender disparities in coverage. Where there is a limited supply of vaccines, the picture can differ depending on which groups were prioritized for vaccination. For example, in some countries, prioritizing health care workers meant that women were more likely to receive vaccines. Men were more likely to receive a shot in others, where the military was prioritized. Where supply is adequate, fears may explain disparity – for example, rumours of effects on fertility or breastfeeding have hampered uptake. Or, as with routine childhood vaccines, the main gender barriers could relate to the inability to get to the clinic, fear of illness after the vaccine (which would require the person to take time off), and other opportunity costs. 

About the event
What is it about?

24-30 April is the celebration of World Immunization Week, commemorating the collective action needed and promoting the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against disease. The theme for 2022 is ‘long life for all’. But the achievement will be hampered without significant effort to tackle the challenges of the inequities inherent in the development and production of vaccines, the distribution and supply, and access and uptake.

Who is part of it?

The Lancet Commission on Gender and Global Health in partnership with the UNU Gender and Health Hub present the ‘In Conversation With…’ webinar series. The first session in the series, ‘Vaccines to vaccinations: Gender in promoting immunization’ will be chaired by Nina Schwalbe, Commissioner and Principal Visiting Fellow at the United Nations University – International Institute for Global Health.

A group of people wearing medical masks
Our panel
Nina Schwalbe
In conversation with
Nina Schwalbe
Nina Schwalbe is the Commissioner, The Lancet Commission on Gender and Global Health; Principal Visiting Fellow, United Nations University International Institute for Global Health. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Ms Schwalbe is Founder and Principal at Spark Street Consulting, a strategic consulting firm with representation in New York, Islamabad, Delhi and Lisbon, specializing in improving effectiveness, maximizing impact, and driving the intersection between strategy, policy and advocacy. Clients include Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, WHO, UNICEF, CEPI and a number of private foundations and not-for-profit organizations.

Ms Schwalbe began her career in public health working with refugees in Thailand. She has since held numerous leadership positions including acting as UNICEF’s Associate Director of Program Division and Chief of Health. Prior to UNICEF, Nina served as Managing Director for Policy and Performance at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, where she led Gavi’s work on strategy and policy development, market shaping, performance management and monitoring and evaluation. In addition to developing Gavi’s organizational strategy, she also developed their vaccine investment strategy, gender, fragile state and graduation, and co-financing policies.

Nina went to Gavi from the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development where, as policy director she focused on access to and adoption of new technologies. Her work on TB began at the Open Society Foundations (OSF), she developed and directed their Public Health Program.

She has also worked at Engender Health and the Population Council and holds degrees from Harvard and Columbia Universities. She is member of the Council on Foreign Relations, an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, and serves on Gavi’s Evaluation Advisory Committee. She has published numerous articles and serves as a peer reviewer for Vaccines and the Lancet, among others.
Pascale Allotey
Pascale Allotey is the Director of the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH). She has three decades of experience as a researcher in global health including multidisciplinary background, and experience working across four continents to promote health and well-being.

Prior to joining UNU, Prof. Allotey served as Professor of Public Health and Deputy Head of School (Research and Development) at the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University (Malaysia). She also was head of the Global Public Health unit and founding Associate Director of the South East Asia Community Observatory (SEACO, Malaysia).

Her previous experience includes Professor of Race, Diversity and Professional Practice, Brunel University (United Kingdom); Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow at the Key Centre for Women’s Health, WHO Collaborating Centre for Women’s Health, University of Melbourne (Australia); and Lecturer in the Tropical Health Program, Australian Centre for International and Tropic Disease and Nutrition, University of Queensland (Australia).

Prof. Allotey has a multidisciplinary background in clinical health sciences, anthropology, and epidemiology. Her research has focused on health equity, health and human rights, gender and social determinants of health, forced migration and marginalisation, sexual and reproductive health, infectious diseases, and non-communicable diseases.

She is also a technical advisor on several WHO committees in Geneva, including serving as co-Chair of the Gender and Rights Advisory Panel; a member of the Technical Advisory Group on Universal Health Coverage for the WHO Western Pacific Region office in Manila; and associate editor for several public health and global health journals.

She holds a PhD in Public Health and a MMedSci degree in Community Health from the University of Western Australia.
Bio photo of Jamille Bigio
Jamille Bigio
Jamille Bigio serves as the Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, the acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Gender Equality, and the Director of the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Hub.

Prior to joining USAID, Ms. Bigio served as a senior fellow on Women and Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, where she researched, lectured, and published widely on the relationship between gender equality, national security, and global prosperity.

She previously served as the director for human rights and gender on the White House National Security Council (NSC) staff and as the NSC representative on the White House Council on Women and Girls. At the State Department, Ms. Bigio served as senior advisor on national security and on sub-Saharan Africa to the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues and was detailed to the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and to the U.S. Mission to the African Union. Ms. Bigio led the interagency launch of the U.S. government’s first National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, an effort for which she was recognized with the U.S. Department of State Superior Honor Award and the U.S. Department of Defense Secretary of Defense Honor Award. She also worked at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in New York, Ethiopia, and Iraq (based in Jordan), and at the grassroots level for public health nongovernmental organizations.

Ms. Bigio is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School and the University of Maryland.
Bio photo of Dr. Akosua Sika Ayisi
Akosua Sika Ayisi
Akosua SikaAyisi is a Medical Doctor and a PublicHealth Physician Specialist working with the Ghana Health Service in Ghana, WestAfrica.She has extensive experience in the fields of maternal health, child health, epidemiology,and disease control. Akosua is a data-driven quality improvement advocate who believes firmly in theprovision of quality, equitable, accessible,and affordable health care systems. She has therefore consistently applied this passion to design and implement context-specific interventions to address the various challenges she has encountered in her various roles at all the levels of the health system she has worked in. From the consulting room at the community level,to the sub-district, district, regional and national levels. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Ayisi has led the coordination of the Regional Epidemic Response for the most populated and highest COVID-19 burdened region in Ghana, the Greater Accra Region. Through the implementation of timely and decisive policies and strategies using an all people approach, Dr Ayisi, together with her team have worked to ensure an effective control of the pandemic. She has also led in the implementation of a robust vaccine deployment strategic plan that continues to ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Her keen interest in Health System Strengthening continues to be her driving force in addressing the various public health issues she encounters.
Bio photo of Prof Mira Johri
Mira Johri
Mira Johri is Professor in the Department of Health Management, Evaluation and Policy at the School of Public Health, University of Montreal, and Principal Scientist at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM). Dr. Johri's research focuses on equitable access to childhood vaccines globally and in India. Mira studied economics, ethics and political philosophy (theories of justice) at McGill University, and public health (quantitative methods for programme evaluation) at Yale University. She has served as Consultant in the Department of Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health at the World Health Organization, and currently serves as Commissioner for the Lancet Commission on Hearing Loss and Independent Expert to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, where she serves as member of the Evaluation Advisory Committee. She is currently Member of the Technical Steering Group for the baseline evaluation of the COVAX facility commissioned by Gavi. Mira’s research has appeared in high-impact journals such as the Lancet Global Health, BMC Medicine, and the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. Mira has been co-leading field research in India since 2012. Her team’s award-winning work has been supported by innovation funding through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations Phase I (2012), IC-IMPACTS: A Canadian Network Centres of Excellence (2015), Grand Challenges Canada Stars in Global Health (2016), the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) / Grand Challenges India (2018), the Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations Phase I (2018) and the UNICEF Innovation Fund (2019). In 2020, the team became an official Indian not-for-profit organization, Raah Health and Social Development Foundation, whose mission is to accelerate health equity in rural India through community-driven innovation.
Bio photo of Dr Phionah Atuhebwe
Phionah Atuhebwe
Atuhebwe is a vaccinologist, immunization expert and a sexual and reproductive health specialist, with extensive experience of project management in international public health. She is currently the Regional New Vaccines Introduction Medical Officer at the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Congo, coordinating WHO’s work in the African region to introduce new vaccines and increase the uptake of underutilized vaccines. Dr. Atuhebwe is currently coordinating the WHO Africa COVID-19 Vaccine Readiness and Equitable Delivery Taskforce which is leading the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa.

Dr. Atuhebwe previously worked with PATH, supporting the introduction of new vaccines in Africa and Southeast Asia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery from Mbarara University, Uganda, a master’s degree in international public health from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, as well as postgraduate training in Vaccinology from University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Project Leadership and Management from Cornell University, USA.

Dr. Atuhebwe is a survivor of severe COVID-19, and an outspoken advocate for the value of COVID-19 vaccines as a critical tool for ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
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