ETHIOPIA – New milestone as Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative has delivered over 15M vaccines across Africa and deployed rapid responders to accelerate vaccination campaigns in countries at-risk of vaccine expiration, according to the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
In 2021, Mastercard announced that it will deploy US$1.3 billion over the next three years in partnership with the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Africa and hasten the economic recovery of the continent.
The partnership focused on four key objectives namely to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for at least 65 million people, advance the delivery and administration of vaccines, lay the groundwork for vaccine manufacturing by focusing on human capital development and strengthen the capacity of Africa CDC.
The African Union and Africa CDC, under the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative, recently launched an initiative called Bingwa to recruit young people as vaccine advocates in their communities, given that 70 percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 30.
The Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative has played a crucial role in informing the decision of African Union Heads of State to designate the Africa CDC as an autonomous public health agency to be able to declare public health emergencies of continental security.
About 40 African Union health ministers recently convened in a meeting to discuss revisions to the statutes under which Africa CDC operates which could give it more authority including the power to declare regional or continent-wide health emergencies.
In addition, the largest public health partnership between a global philanthropic organization and an African institution has paved way for the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust to negotiate and secure 510 million doses for Africa from vaccine manufacturers.
The Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative further builds on an earlier collaboration between Mastercard and Africa CDC to expand access to testing kits and enhance surveillance capacity in Africa to achieve a 70 percent inoculation target against COVID-19 by 2022.
It also 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 Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative is currently focused on turning vaccine delivery into vaccinations by working with governments to help set up vaccination centres, train and support health care workers along with community engagements on why vaccines are safe and important.
Moreover, Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention is looking to expand local manufacturing of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics to facilitate quick access to pharmaceutical products and medical supplies at reduced costs in the continent
Acting Director of the Africa CDC Dr Ahmed Ouma highlighted that COVID-19 vaccination remains a key priority for Africa, noting that six African countries have vaccinated between 40 and 70 percent of their populations while less than 20 percent of the people in Africa are fully vaccinated.
“We reiterate our commitment and drive towards the new public health order which calls for a strengthened Africa CDC and our National Public Health Institute as well as increased investment in the public health workforce and training the next generation of leaders and experts,” Dr Ahmed maintained.
Dr. Ahmed Ouma stressed the importance of focusing vaccination efforts on young people, adding that Risk Communication and Community Engagement will help create demand for and uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations along with supporting non-pharmaceutical efforts in the fight against the global pandemic.