Mastercard Foundation gives $1.3B to fight COVID-19 in Africa

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June 8 (UPI) — Mastercard’s charitable foundation on Tuesday announced that it will spend $1.3 billion over three years to provide COVID-19 aid and support to help impoverished in Africa, where access to vaccines has been limited.

The Mastercard Foundation said the money will go to “save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Africa and hasten the economic recovery of the continent.”

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The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is part of the effort.

The initiative aims to provide coronavirus vaccines to tens of millions of people and lay groundwork for vaccine manufacturing on the continent. It also hopes to speed economic recovery in Africa.

“This initiative will catalyze work opportunities in the health sector and beyond as part of our Young Africa Works strategy,” Mastercard Foundation President Reeta Roy said in a statement.

The African Union has set a goal to vaccinate at least 60% of the population by the end of 2022. Less than 2% have received even one dose, the foundation said.

“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,” Africa CDC Director Dr. John Nkengasong said in the statement.

Africa last year experienced its first recession in a quarter-century due to the pandemic. The African Development Bank warned that COVID-19 could drive nearly 40 million people into extreme poverty this year.

The foundation’s pledge is believed to be one of the largest private investments to date for COVID-19 recovery.