Mastercard Foundation and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have announced a three-year $1.3b partnership to enable access to COVID-19 vaccines for African countries.
Mastercard Foundation President and CEO Reeta Roy says the initiative will contribute to the African Union’s goal of vaccinating 60% of Africa’s population by the end of 2022.
As of June 6, the number of reported COVID-19 cases in Africa surpassed 4.9 million, with more than 130,000 deaths.
According to Reeta, the pandemic has plunged the continent into its first economic recession in more than 25 years.
“The African Development Bank notes that COVID-19 could reverse hard-won gains in poverty reduction over the past two decades and has the potential to drive 39 million people into extreme poverty this year alone. Financing is critical to ensure equitable access to safe and efficacious vaccines,” she says.
Reeta says their initiative will strengthen the continent’s capacity to manufacture vaccines through a focus on human capital development, enabling work opportunities for young people.
This initiative will also strengthen the Africa CDC’s capacity to oversee a historic vaccination exercise and to respond to future disease outbreaks.
“The deployment of vaccines across Africa will require thousands of health care workers, including vaccinators, community health workers, data clerks, co-ordinators, and other support staff. The Africa CDC will track employment opportunities created through this initiative. In the longer-term, the foundation’s support to the Africa CDC will catalyse its vaccine manufacturing strategy, creating new work opportunities for young people across the continent, in line with the Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy to enable 30 million young women and men to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030,” Reeta says.
Asked whether the foundation is shifting away from youth employment and its current partnerships, Ms Reeta says they remain fully committed to Young Africa Works.
“Our strategy to enable 30 million young women and men to access dignified and fulfilling work. This initiative is an enabler of the Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy.
Widespread vaccination is key to ensuring economic recovery and growth, creating the conditions for entrepreneurship and work. This initiative is also a contributor to the Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy. It will focus on developing the human capital for vaccine manufacturing and establish the foundation’s health care workforce strategy to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people to improve the delivery of primary health care services,” she says.
The partnership will acquire vaccines for at least 50 million people and enable the delivery of vaccinations to millions more across the continent, saving lives and livelihoods. The initiative will ensure vaccine access for Africa, hastening economic recovery. It will build Africa’s self-reliance by strengthening the continent’s capacity to manufacture vaccines, which will also create work opportunities for young people. It will contribute to Africa’s long-term health security by strengthening the Africa CDC’s capacity to respond to future public health threats.