Private sector's role in underpinning the UAE’s vaccination programme
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Private sector’s role in underpinning the UAE’s vaccination programme

Private sector’s role in underpinning the UAE’s vaccination programme

The private sector must step up to support the nation’s campaign towards Covid-19 vaccination


More than four million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the UAE. This is a remarkable achievement for a country of 10 million and a clear testament to the UAE leadership’s ongoing commitment to the health and wellbeing of citizens and residents.

Our country understands that vaccinations, not vaccines, save lives, as indicated by the ambitious goal set out by the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) to vaccinate half of the UAE’s population by April, and the entire eligible population by the end of the year. With tens of thousands of people across the seven emirates receiving vaccinations every day, it seems that the UAE can achieve these targets.

That momentum has already started to invigorate economic activity. Dubai Economy, for example, expects to see a 4 per cent growth in household consumption year on year in 2021, following the launch of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign. Analysts have noted that activity in the UAE’s non-oil private sector also grew in December 2020 due to increased sales and export demand, with new export orders growing at the strongest rate in 15 months.

Nevertheless, the recent increase in cases is a reminder that putting Covid-19 in the rear-view mirror takes a collective effort. It is also a reminder that, for the economy to fully recover, we need to get over the pandemic. The initial success of the vaccination campaign is an encouraging sign. That pace must continue.

Unfortunately, there are still some people who are influenced by misinformation and conspiracy theories, and who still have doubts about the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines.

The UAE government has done a tremendous job in educating the public and encouraging everyone to make the right decision and get vaccinated. However, it should not be the government’s task alone.

The private sector must step up to support the nation’s campaign towards Covid-19 vaccination. Business leaders should take responsibility for helping to educate their employees on the benefits of getting vaccinated. That includes providing information on what options are now available, how to get the vaccine, and the resources that can help them to act swiftly.

Providing paid time off to employees who are getting their vaccine shots is also a simple and effective policy that businesses can adopt. Organising free transportation for staff to travel to vaccination centers is yet another way that managers can ease the burden on individual employees. Moreover, entities like SEHA and DHA have already shown their willingness to engage private sector companies in planning large-scale vaccination drives, with new options for appointments being made available all the time.

These efforts must ultimately be led from the front. Managers and business owners are stewards of their company. They must lead by example, whether that is in Covid-19 testing or in getting the vaccine. It may not be possible to implement all of the aforementioned policies immediately or in parallel. However, taking steps to explore these options at the leadership level is going to significantly strengthen our society’s fight against the pandemic. Everyone should feel responsible for doing their part in keeping communities safe.

If the private sector can pull together and fight Covid-19 in parallel with all of the tools the UAE government is providing us, then we can beat this pandemic, and businesses will more quickly and safely rebound in the process.

Mohammad A. Baker is the deputy chairman and CEO of GMG


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