ZAMBIA – The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and Mastercard Foundation have rolled out a large-scale, multi-country COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Southern Africa under the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative.

The Saving Lives and Livelihood is a US$1.5 billion partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and the Africa CDC designed to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for nearly 65 million people, enable vaccine delivery and administration to vaccinate millions more, develop a workforce to support continental vaccine manufacturing, and strengthen the Africa CDC.

To date, the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative has enabled over 6 million people in Africa to access COVID-19 vaccines, while helping to accelerate vaccine uptake in countries facing the risk of mass vaccine expiration.

Speaking at the flagging-off event in Zambia, President Hakainde Hichilema welcomed the Saving Lives and Livelihoods vaccination drive to Southern Africa alongside several African Heads of State and Ministers of Health.

“We’ve gathered here today to kick off the Saving Lives and Livelihoods COVID-19 vaccine acceleration program in Southern Africa’s 10 countries, as well as to celebrate our partnership with Africa CDC and the Mastercard Foundation,” the President said.

In Zambia, the Saving Lives and Livelihoods program is currently operating or supporting a total of 174 mobile vaccination sites, including deploying vaccinators, data entry clerks, and community mobilizers.

Moving forward, the initiative onboard an additional 4,000 community-based volunteers (CBVs) to conduct door-to-door community sensitizations and mobilization across the country.

The Saving Lives and Livelihoods’ new phase of vaccination in Southern Africa will reach several additional countries including Namibia, Lesotho, Malawi, and Botswana.

It will include support that enables countries to conduct vaccine safety surveillance (pharmacovigilance), COVID-19 vaccination capacity strengthening (CVCS), and risk communication and community engagement (RCCE).

“Our ambitious target is to vaccinate 70% of the African population by the end of 2022. As of 10 November 2022, the overall coverage is 25.2% of people fully vaccinated. Most countries have coverage below 30 per cent (total population) – compared to a global average of 60 per cent,” the Acting Director General of Africa CDC, Dr Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, said.

“Additionally, in most African countries where data is available, the COVID-19 vaccination coverage among the high-priority population, including health workers, elderly people, people living with co-morbidities and children remains low.

“Here is an opportunity to scale-up COVID-19 vaccination with a focus on achieving 100 per cent coverage among high-risk groups.”

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect lives and livelihoods in Africa. According to the World Bank, each month of delay in effective vaccine deployment costs Africa US$13.8 billion in lost GDP.

In contrast, faster vaccine deployment would boost continental growth to 5.1 percent in 2022 and 5.4 percent in 2023, as containment measures are eased and spending increases.

“It is important that we get behind African public health institutions and support the expansion of Africa’s public health workforce—two key pillars of the New Public Health Order for Africa, which are mirrored in the Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation.

“Moving forward, we will accelerate our work on these priorities to enable economic resilience across Africa.”

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