The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa-CDC) and the Mastercard Foundation have launched phase two of the Saving Lives and Livelihoods (SLL) initiatives as part of efforts to strengthen the continent’s public health system.
The organisations, in a statement issued on Wednesday, said they entered a new phase of partnership on the initiative following WHO’s declaration of the end of COVID-19 pandemic as a public health emergency of international concern.
The statement indicates that in this second phase, the partnership will expand its scope and scale, focusing on completing the vaccination of healthcare workers and vulnerable groups.
It also intends to build a robust workforce of community health workers, ensuring pandemic preparedness by bolstering national public health institutions, laboratory capacities, data access and quality and local manufacturing of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
The president of the Mastercard Foundation, Reeta Roy, said while the global pandemic may be declared over, the need to continue investing in Africa’s health systems, build a workforce and prepare for future pandemics remains urgent.
Ms Roy said the partnership will ensure the Africa region have strong health institutions and systems.
“We aim to enable thousands of young people to build their careers in healthcare and contribute to improving lives in Africa,” she said
The SLL initiative is a $1.5 million partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and the Africa CDC launched in June 2021 in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The partnership aims to ensure vaccine equity for Africa by purchasing vaccines, roll out vaccinations, build the vaccine manufacturing workforce for the continent, and strengthen the Africa CDC to ensure long-term health security for Africa.
According to the statement, the partnership has contributed to the continent’s current vaccination rate of 53 per cent of the target population, up from just 3 per cent at the start of the initiative.
It has also trained, equipped, and deployed 38,000 health workers, creating a robust frontline in safeguarding public health locally.
It said it has provided job opportunities for 23,000 individuals and integrated over 600 COVID-19 vaccination centres into healthcare systems.
“This initiative led to the expansion of genomic testing capabilities from seven to 40 laboratories across the continent.
“The review of Phase one of this initiative, among 15 implementing partners across 29 countries, conducted by Deloitte, indicates that the vast majority of funds disbursed were used effectively and as intended.”
The Director-General of the Africa-CDC, Jean Kaseya, said the initiative has shown the power of respectful and action-oriented partnerships rooted in collaboration, coordination and systems strengthening.
Mr Kaseya said “the experience and learnings from Phase one will enable us to move with greater speed and scale to deliver with accelerated impact to our member states.”
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