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Mastercard Foundation’s partnership with Africa CDC will help curtail COVID-19 impact on the continent

The Mastercard Foundation is partnering with Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to support COVID-19 responses on the continent. In this interview with CHUKS OLUIGBO, CHIDINMA LAWANSON, country head, Mastercard Foundation, Nigeria, gives insight into the partnership and what it aims to achieve.

The African Union Commission (AUC) Commissioner for Social Affairs recently announced a partnership between the Africa CDC and Mastercard Foundation to support COVID-19 responses. Can you tell us more about this partnership?

The Mastercard Foundation is partnering with Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to respond to COVID-19. The Mastercard Foundation is committing US$40 million, through its COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program, to the Africa CDC’S Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT). The Mastercard Foundation is one of several partners involved in this initiative. Our partnership will enable the following: (a) The purchase of 1 million test kits; (b) Training and deployment of 10,000 community healthcare workers and 80 surveillance rapid responders to support contact tracing; and ( c) The Africa CDC to build its own internal capacity to oversee a continental response to the pandemic.

Read also: COVID-19: FG plans to launch N471bn mass agricultural scheme to create jobs

You mentioned that the partnership will see the delivery of 1 million test kits and deployment of 10,000 community health workers for COVID-19 response. Could you talk us through how this will work?

The Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing or PACT is anchored on the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19. It is 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. Our partner, Africa CDC, is working with several partners and member states, Nigeria being one.

Apart from the delivery of 1 million test kits and deployment of 10,000 community health workers, what else are we expecting to see from this partnership?

Communities across the continent will benefit from PACT in a number of ways: ( i) Pooled procurement, storage and distribution of diagnostics and other medical supplies; (ii) Testing of at least 10 million individuals; (iii) and the deployment of one million community workers and community healthcare workers.

Additional 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.

Why partnering with Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention only? Is the Foundation looking at bringing other major stakeholders onboard in the nearest future or even extending the partnership to country CDCS?

Under the Mastercard Foundation COVID- 19 Recovery and Resilience Program, we are stepping up our work on the continent to address the pandemic alongside partners and communities. We have initiatives underway in several countries and more being finalised as we speak. Our partnership with Africa CDC is but one of several partnerships we are already engaged in to support COVID- 19 response. You can expect more partnerships to come.

How many countries in Africa will benefit from this partnership? Is it tied to selected African countries where Mastercard Foundation has presence?

The goal of the continental strategy is to prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19 infection in African Union member states and minimise social disruption and the economic consequences of COVID-19. PACT aims to strengthen capacity to test for COVID-19 across Africa, with emphasis on countries that have only minimal capacity. This will ensure that at least 10 million Africans, who would have not been tested, get tested in the next six months.

The Foundation is executing this initiative through its COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program. Can you tell us more about this program and how it will benefit Nigeria?

The Mastercard Foundation created the COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program specifically to address immediate needs and longer-term socio-economic effects. In Africa, the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program will assist institutions and communities to withstand and respond to the short-term impacts of this pandemic.

The Program will also provide support to strengthen their resilience in the long run. Our hope is that with the right support they will be able to stay united and be at the forefront of reigniting their economies.

In Nigeria, in the short term, the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program will support first responders; create an MSME support program; support digital solutions; and support additional education initiatives.

In the medium-to-long term the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program will support small and medium enterprises (SMES) as they re-tool their business models; support the educational sector; and support the digital economy.

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