Kagame made the recommendation today at the official launch of the partnership between MasterCard Foundation and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
The three-year partnership will leave US$1.3 billion deployed to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Africa and hasten the economic recovery of the continent.
The Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative will acquire vaccines for at least 50 million people, 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.
President Kagame said that MasterCard Foundation has been making real difference on the continent in the areas of education and youth empowerment since 2009 and highlighted three critical areas the newly launched partnership should prioritize.
“First, it is practical and immediate. Lives are going to be changed vaccine purchases. Second, there is a commitment to work directly with our public health institution and make them stronger. Creating pararrel systems has not been effective or sustainable. Third, there is a long-term vision to build Africa’s capacity to produce high quality medicines and vaccines right here on our continent,” he said.
Kagame also stressed the need for urgent interventions to get out of the crisis.
“As Africa, we have to do our part with a sense of urgency and excellence. We won’t get out of this crisis with a business-as-usual mindset. That means, investing much more of our own domestic health resources in our national systems,” he noted.
The African Union’s goal as set out in the African COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy is to vaccinate at least 60 percent 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 percent of Africans have received at least one vaccine dose.
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. The Africa CDC has called on governments, global funders, the private sector, and others to help meet this goal.
“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 Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC.
“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.”
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.