To acquire vaccines for 50 million Africans

By Chioma Obinna

To hasten the economic recovery of the African continent, the MasterCard Foundation on Tuesday said it is deploying a total of $1.3 billion over the next three years in partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Africa CDC, to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Africa.

They also pledged to acquire vaccines for at least 50 million people through the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative.

Announcing this during a virtual press conference, President/Chief Executive Officer of the MasterCard Foundation, Reeta Roy said the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative will also 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.

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Roy said: “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 catalyze work opportunities in the health sector and beyond as part of our Young Africa Works strategy,” she added.

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.

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 and the Africa CDC is calling on governments, global funders, the private sector, and others to help meet this goal.

On his part, the Director of the Africa CDC, Dr John Nkengasong 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.

“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.”

Nkengasong   noted that in 2020, 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 recognized 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.

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. To date, less than two per cent of Africans have received at least one vaccine dose.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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