Video source: YouTube, CNBCAfrica
The Mastercard Foundation announced Tuesday it will deploy $1.3 billion to save lives and improve pandemic response efforts in Africa.
The Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative, which will be implemented over the next three years in partnership with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), is intended to acquire and deliver vaccines to more than 50 million people across the continent.
The program also will aims to spur vaccine manufacturing in African countries by focusing on human capital development, according to a press release from the foundation.
In Africa, there have been 4.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 130,000 virus-related deaths. Fewer than 2% of the people on the continent have received at least a single dose of the vaccine, a stark contrast to the global average of 11.6%.
The African Union hopes to vaccinate at least 60% of its population (750 million people) by the end of 2022. According to Axios, the estimated cost of the effort is roughly $16 billion and the Africa CDC is calling on governments, the private sector and others to help meet its goal.
In a statement, Africa CDC director 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.”
In Africa, where many nations have struggled to obtain shots, widespread vaccination is recognized as critical to economic recovery.
The African Development Bank has warned that the pandemic could reverse “hard-won gains in poverty reduction” over the past two decades and drive 39 million people into extreme poverty this year.
Mastercard Foundation president and chief executive officer Reeta 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.”
Mastercard Inc executive chairman Ajay Banga said the foundation's investment is “the kind of effort that can change the trajectory of the pandemic.”
“It will enable millions of people across Africa to receive COVID-19 vaccines. By partnering with Africa CDC and others to solve for every hurdle — from the purchasing, delivery, and dissemination of vaccines, to strengthening institutions and creating jobs — the impact won’t just benefit the continent, it’ll benefit all of us,” Banga said.
The newly-announced initiative builds on an earlier collaboration between Africa CDC and the Mastercard Foundation to expand access to COVID-19 testing in Africa.
Through the partnership, nearly two million tests and more than 12,000 healthcare workers were deployed across the continent.
The Mastercard Foundation is among the world's largest foundations with more than $39 billion in assets. Since its inception by Mastercard Inc in 2006, the foundation has operated independently of the company.
Source: Equities News