By Zainab Iwayemi
On a mission to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Africa and hasten the economic recovery of the continent, the MasterCard Foundation has partnered with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and announced that it will deploy $1.3 billion over the next three years to the cause of accelerating COVID-19 test.
Through a focus on human capital development, and strengthening of the Africa CDC, the saving lives and livelihoods initiative will acquire vaccines for at least 50 million people, support the delivery of vaccinations to millions more across the continent, lay the groundwork for vaccine manufacturing in Africa to ensure the urgent equitable access and delivery of vaccines across the continent.
The initiative builds on an earlier collaboration between the MasterCard Foundation and Africa CDC to expand access to testing kits and enhance surveillance capacity in Africa following the first economic recession in 25 years due to the pandemic in 2020.
The African Development Bank has warned that COVID-19 could reverse hard-won gains in poverty reduction over the past two decades and drive 39 million people into extreme poverty in 2021. As a result, widespread vaccination is recognized as being critical to the economic recovery of African countries.
According to Reeta Roy, president and CEO of the MasterCard Foundation, the initiative is about valuing all lives and accelerating the economic recovery of the continent. “In the process, this initiative will catalyze work opportunities in the health sector and beyond as part of our Young Africa Works strategy,” she noted.
While the financial costs of purchasing, delivering, and administering vaccines remain significant, the number of vaccines available to Africa represents a small portion of the global supply. Hence, the new partnership builds on the efforts of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access facility (COVAX), the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), and the global community to expand access to vaccines across Africa.
John Nkengasong, director of Africa CDC said, “Ensuring inclusivity in vaccine access, and building Africa’s capacity to manufacture its own vaccines, is not just good for the continent, it’s the only sustainable path out of the pandemic and into a health-secure future”.
He added, “This partnership with the MasterCard Foundation is a bold step towards establishing a New Public Health Order for Africa, and we welcome other actors to join this historic journey.”
Through the foundation’s support, the Africa CDC’s Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT) deployed nearly two million COVID-19 tests and more than 12,000 trained health care workers and rapid responders across Africa. In total, the PACT has enabled over 47 million COVID-19 tests across the continent.