Mastercard Foundation is partnering with Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help Africa member states respond and recover from COVID-19 pandemic and its effects.
Through its COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program, Mastercard Foundation is committing US$40 million to the Africa CDC’s Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT).
These funds will be used to purchase 1 million test kits, as well as train and deploy 10,000 community healthcare workers and 80 surveillance rapid responders to support contact tracing as well as strengthen the Africa CDC’s capacity to oversee a continental response to the pandemic. Africa CDC will undertake these COVID-19 response measures in partnership with the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET).
PACT is anchored on the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 endorsed by the Bureau of Heads of State and Government of the African Union to help limit COVID-19 transmission in Africa. PACT will strengthen the capacity to test, trace, and treat COVID-19 cases on the continent.
Under the initiative, Africa CDC is working with Member States and several partners to support pooled procurement, storage and distribution of diagnostics and other medical supplies; testing of at least 10 million individuals and the deployment of one million community workers and community healthcare workers. These workers will enable COVID-19 contact tracing and the deployment of technology platforms that will enhance testing, epidemiological modelling, and critical health forecasting, to support re-opening and recovery of economies.
Speaking about the Funding, the Mastercard Foundation Country Head Uganda, Samuel Yalew Adela noted that the foundation was committed to helping states where it operates to sustain economies progressively in the post COVID19 era.
“The Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program has two main goals. First, to deliver emergency support for health workers, first responders, and students. Second, to strengthen the diverse institutions that are the first line of defense against the social and economic aftermath of this disease. These include universities, financial service providers, businesses, technology start-ups, incubators, government agencies, youth organizations, and non-governmental organizations. We stand together in our commitment to our partners and we share a common goal of creating opportunities for young people in Africa'” he said.
In Uganda, Mastercard Foundation is already working with Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) to procure 30,000 test kits and support over 200 businesses to stay afloat during and after Covid-19. It is also still supporting all the 1000 scholars at Makerere University and 5000 under secondary schools students within BRAC to ensure continuity of learning in their homes but also be able to return safely to educational institutions after schools are opened.
“This is why, in Africa, our areas of support focus on; expanding access to financial services for micro, small, and medium enterprises, which will enable businesses to withstand the economic effects of
COVID-19, explore options for digitizing their businesses, and potentially contribute to public health response through the production and distribution of critically-needed health care products and equipment and enabling e-learning to assist young people whose education was disrupted by the pandemic. We will work with educational organizations to help them transition to digital delivery of courses, mentoring, and student outreach. This will not only prepare learning institutions for future crises but also for the future of education,” Mr Adela noted
Africa CDC has distributed more than 2.5 million test kits and provided medical equipment such as personal protective equipment, thermal scanners, and ventilators, across Africa. As of 31 May 2020, Africa CDC had deployed 164 community health workers to support COVID-19 response within Ethiopia, where the Africa CDC is headquartered, and across 14 Member States. Despite the progress, governments across Africa continue to face tremendous needs within their public health systems, which must be met to ensure an effective and sustained response to the pandemic. Africa CDC is rallying resources and support to bridge existing gaps in public health systems by meeting the PACT targets.
Lessons from the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa in 2014 show that many people died not only from the disease itself, but from a lack of essential medicine or timely medical care. The same trend has been observed in the current pandemic. Africa needs more testing kits if it is going to quickly, identify, isolate, and care for those who are infected. It needs more healthcare workers and rapid responders who are trained to support contact tracing as well as referral and linkage to healthcare services at the community level.