The Mastercard Foundation and Africa CDC have partnered to deploy $1.3bn towards boosting the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines Africa, in a bid to reverse the economic damage caused by the coronavirus.
The funds will be used to help buy and distribute vaccines to 50m people over the next three years. They will also help lay the groundwork for vaccine manufacturing capacity on the continent by focusing on human capital development, the two organisations said in a joint statement.
So far only around 2% of Africa’s 750m adult population have received at least one dose of the vaccine, Africa CDC says. But the African Union hopes that 60% of Africans in the 55 member state grouping will be vaccinated by the end of 2022.
Africa’s top public health official called on governments, global funders, the private sector, and others to help build vaccine manufacturing capability on the continent, which currently imports 99% of its supply. Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC said that the partnership will be “recorded as a game-changer in our ability to fight Covid-19 on the continent”.
“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,” said Nkengasong.
“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 said the partnership will provide an “equitable and accountable” way of strengthening key logistics, community engagement, genomic surveillance and digital tools across the continent.
In 2020 the pandemic ushered in the continent’s worst economic recession in 25 years, which risks driving 39m Africans into extreme poverty this year.
“This pandemic continues to ravage the world as well as our societies,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission. “We will continue to work tirelessly for more than a year to bring responses to this sanitary crisis that not only devastates the lives of millions of people, but their living conditions and means of survival. Today a new page has opened on the continent… more than 2% of Africans have received one dose of vaccine which is worrying and very far from the objective, so the Mastercard partnership comes at the right moment.”
“We expect this initiative is an opportunity to unlock the economic potential of the health sector and create jobs and opportunities for thousands of people so they too can begin the recovery,” said Reeta Roy, CEO and president of the Mastercard Foundation.
Rwandan president Paul Kagame also spoke at the launch event, where he commended the initiative and called for greater focus on domestic healthcare systems.
“We won’t get out of this crisis with a business-as-usual mindset, it means investing much more of our national resources in our health systems.”