ADDIS ABEBA – MasterCard Foundation has committed 40 million US dollars to Africa’s Accelerate COVID-19 Testing Initiative, also known as PACT, which aims to test millions of people.
The fund will be used to purchase one million test kits, and to train and deploy 10,000 community healthcare workers and 80 surveillance rapid responders to support contact tracing, according to Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
The PACT is anchored on the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 endorsed by the Bureau of Heads of State and Government of the African Union to help limit COVID-19 transmission in Africa.
It will strengthen the capacity to test, trace, and treat COVID-19 cases on the continent, said Africa CDC, which is a branch of the African Union bloc.
Africa CDC is currently working to help AU member test of at least 10 million individuals “in the coming two to three months”.
The agency believes the continent of 1.2 bln people has to test at least 1.2 million.
But the continent managed to test only 2.4 tests so far, and confirmed over 162, 000 cases of the respiratory disease caused by Coronavirus.
Director of Africa CDC, Dr. John Nkengasong, said PACT bill be key to speed up testing and arrest the rising COVID-19 cases in Africa.
“The daily figures show clearly that the pandemic is still on the rise, and to defeat it Africa needs greater cooperation with everybody,” he said, “We need to equip, deploy and train more healthcare workers as quickly as possible, and we expect that there will be more cooperation and solidarity through PACT”.
Africa CDC has distributed more than 2.5 million tests and provided medical equipment such as personal protective equipment, thermal scanners, and ventilators, across Africa.
As of 31 May 2020, it has also deployed 164 community healthcare workers to support COVID-19 response across 14 Member States and at its headquarters in Ethiopia.
Despite this progress, it said African nations “continue to face tremendous needs” within their public health systems, “which must be met to ensure an effective and sustained response to the pandemic”.
Africa CDC is rallying resources and support to bridge existing gaps with the support of its partners.
“We are impressed by the swift pan-African response to COVID-19 led by Africa CDC and regional organizations,” said Reeta Roy, MasterCard Foundation President and CEO.
“They have created a clear plan and targets to deliver a robust health response and save lives,” Roy said.
The “foundation stands with the Africa CDC and calls on other funders to support this excellent plan. Fighting this pandemic requires all of us to coordinate our efforts and work together”, the CEO added.