The conversation around the pandemic has changed. It used to be about wearing face masks, consistent hand washing and staying at home – if going out can be avoided. With the COVID-19 cumulative cases in Africa now exceeding 3 million and daily cases currently surpassing the peak numbers recorded in the first wave of the pandemic. The focus is now on the availability of COVID-19 vaccines and how countries in Africa – supposedly rated ‘poor countries’ – will get the vaccines to their citizens.
To make these possible, private organisations have taken up the responsibility to ensure Africa is not left out in the equation.
Here are five of them:
1. African Union
The African Union (AU) has been actively involved in mitigating the adverse effects of the pandemic. The AU has been supporting member countries who lack the financial means to purchase the drugs which are being scooped up by wealthier, developed countries. The AU has secured an additional 400 million doses of coronavirus vaccines for its members. This comes after an earlier announcement by the AU that it had secured 270 million vaccine doses.
2. Africa Medical Supplies Platform
The Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) unlocks immediate access to an African & global base of vetted manufacturers and procurement strategic partners and enables African Union Member States to purchase certified medical equipment with increased cost-effectiveness and transparency.
Now, on behalf of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), AMSP has commenced the COVID-19 vaccines pre-order programme for all African Union Member States. The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) will facilitate payments by providing advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to the manufacturers on behalf of the Member States.
The MTN Group, one of the largest telecommunication operators on the continent, is supporting the AU’s vaccination programme with a donation of $25 million. The donation will help secure up to seven million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for health workers across the continent.
This donation is testament to MTN’s continued efforts to find lasting solutions to solve the challenges facing the continent and to enable a healthy Africa, for all Africans.
No doubt UNICEF is the largest single vaccine buyer globally, with decades of experience in providing vaccines and routine immunisations across the world, UNICEF, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), is leading efforts to procure and supply approved COVID-19 vaccines for 92 low- and lower middle-income countries around the world, of which 25% of them are in West and Central Africa.
To ensure this, UNICEF has also keyed into a cold chain initiative, helping governments set this in place before the vaccines arrive.
5. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
If the Foundation had its name on all the medical supplies it brought into the continent, we may be seeing a lot of Bill and Melinda Gates.
In December, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said it had pledged $250 million in additional funding towards the global campaign to fight the Coronavirus pandemic. Part of the funds will be channelled to the distribution of life-saving doses of Covid-19 vaccines to parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donations from philanthropists, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gives Africa hope of getting more vaccines than pharmaceutical companies may want to give.