Mastercard to boost Africa’s COVID-19 recovery efforts with $1.3b

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By Adekunle Yusuf

To save lives and preserve livelihoods of millions of people in Africa, MasterCard Foundation is deploying $1.3 billion over the next three years in partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to hasten the economic recovery of the continent after COVID-19 crisis.

The Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative, which will acquire vaccines for at least 50 million people and support the delivery of vaccinations to millions more across the continent, is intended to lay the groundwork for vaccine manufacturing in Africa through a focus on human capital development and the strengthening of Africa CDC.

The above was one of the highlights of at a briefing on Tuesday, this week, where the MasterCard Foundation and Africa CDC announced a historic new partnership.

“Ensuring equitable access and delivery of vaccines across Africa is urgent. This initiative is about valuing all lives and accelerating the economic recovery of the continent. In the process, this initiative will catalyse work opportunities in the health sector and beyond as part of our Young Africa Works strategy,” said Reeta Roy, the President and CEO of the MasterCard Foundation.

The African Union’s goal, as set out in the African COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy, is to vaccinate at least 60 per cent of its population – approximately 750 million people or the entire adult population of the continent – by the end of 2022. Sadly, less than two per cent of Africans have received at least one vaccine dose to date.

The new deal 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. The number of vaccines available to Africa represents a small portion of the global supply and the financial costs to purchase, deliver, and administer vaccines remain significant. The Africa CDC is calling on governments, global funders, the private sector, and others to help meet this goal.

“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. 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, said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC.

Last year, Africa faced its first economic recession in 25 years due to the pandemic. 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. Widespread vaccination is recognised as being critical to the economic recovery of African countries. The initiative builds on an earlier collaboration between the MasterCard Foundation and the Africa CDC to expand access to testing kits and enhance surveillance capacity in Africa. 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.

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The MasterCard Foundation, a Canadian foundation that was created in 2006 when MasterCard became a public company, is one of the largest in the world with more than $39 billion in assets; Africa CDC is a specialised technical institution of the African Union, which strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions as well as partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programmes.

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