Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination drive suffers setback as Nigeria gets $900m health grant

The African COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy of the African Union (AU), yesterday, admitted that its target of vaccinating at least 60 per cent of the continent’s population (about 750 million people) or the entire adult populace by end of 2022 had suffered a setback, as only less than two per cent of Africans had received the jabs.

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said the vaccines available to the continent represent a small portion of global supplies, even as purchase, delivery and administration of the doses remain significant.x

Speaking at the launch of a partnership between MasterCard Foundation and Africa CDC, the centre’s Director, Dr. John Nkengasong, maintained that ensuring inclusivity in vaccine access and building continental capacity to manufacture its vaccines remained only the sustainable path to a healthy future.

On the pact, he said it would build on efforts of the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access facility (COVAX), COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) and the global community to expand access to the jabs across Africa.

“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,” Nkengasong stated.

The Africa CDC called on governments, global funders, the private sector and others to assist in meeting the AU goals.

Meanwhile, MasterCard Foundation has affirmed plans to make available some $1.3 billion to save lives and livelihoods of millions, as well as hasten economic recoveries on the continent in the next three years.

According to the foundation, the Saving Lives and Livelihoods Initiative for Africa would also acquire vaccines for at least 50 million people, support vaccinations, lay the groundwork for vaccine production with focus on human capital development and strengthen the Africa CDC.

The foundation’s President and CEO, Reeta Roy, said there was an urgent need to ensure equitable access and delivery of vaccines across the continent.

“This initiative is about valuing all lives and accelerating the economic recovery of the continent. In the process, this initiative will catalyse work opportunities in the health sector and beyond as part of our Young Africa Works strategy,” she added.

IN a related development, Global Fund has allocated $900 million to fight Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), tuberculosis and malaria in Nigeria between 2021 and 2023.

This came as the federal, state and local governments were urged to channel resources for the strengthening of development partners’ various health interventions.

National Coordinator, Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunisation and Nutrition (ACOMIN), Ayo Ipinmoye, who made the appeal yesterday in Abuja, referenced a report of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which placed Nigeria as the nation with highest malaria burden globally.

He noted that the World Malaria Report 2019 put the country’s prevalence at 25 per cent of global cases.

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