The Mastercard Foundation is to deploy $1.3 billion over the next three years to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Africa and hasten the economic recovery of the continent.
The deployment is in partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (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 through a focus on human capital development, and strengthen the Africa CDC.
A statement issued in Accra jointly by the Foundation and Africa CDC, quoted Madam Reeta Roy, President, and CEO of the MasterCard Foundation saying “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.”
She said in the process, the initiative would catalyze work opportunities in the health sector and beyond as part of their “Young Africa Works” strategy.
The CEO said the African Union’s goal as set out in the African COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy was to vaccinate at least 60 percent of its population, approximately 750 million people or the entire adult population of the continent by the end of 2022.
“To date, less than two percent of Africans have received at least one vaccine dose,” she noted and hopeful the new partnership built 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 would help.
She said the number of vaccines available to Africa represented a small portion of the global supply and the financial costs to purchase, deliver, and administer vaccines remained significant, thus called on governments, global funders, the private sector, and others to help meet the goal.
Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, said “ensuring inclusivity in vaccine access, and building Africa’s capacity to manufacture its 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 said the partnership with the Mastercard Foundation was a bold step towards establishing a new public health order for Africa and welcomed other actors to join the historic journey.
He said in 2020, Africa faced its first economic recession in 25 years due to the pandemic and that the African Development Bank had 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 and that widespread vaccination was recognised as being critical to the economic recovery of African countries.
Dr Nkengasong said the initiative was built 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.