May 12, 2021: Nairobi, Kenya — A new digital platform, COVIDHQ Africa, provides African perspectives on issues related to the global pandemic. Driven by the Mastercard Foundation in partnership with Zain Verjee Group, COVIDHQ Africa is a platform through which Africans are documenting and sharing their experiences with COVID-19, vaccination roll outs, and the knock-on effects of lockdowns and restrictions.
The writers, thought leaders, artists, and activists featured on the platform, who are mostly young people, speak openly and honestly about the struggles they are facing, as well as the ways in which they are learning to innovate and practice resilience. They tackle a range of issues—mental health, love and relationships, climate change, vaccine equity—through a variety of mediums, including personal testimonials, poetry, satire, video diaries, and opinion editorials. The result is a nuanced, vibrant, and colourful narrative of how Africa is navigating a once-in-a-generation pandemic.
"Stories are powerful," said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation. "Storytelling is a rich part of Africa's history. This platform was built for individuals, particularly young people, to tell their stories—and offers the world an opportunity to listen and learn," she added. "It is also a trusted, online resource that provides relevant facts and public health information about COVID-19 in a dynamic landscape."
Zain Verjee, Founder & CEO of Zain Verjee Group said, "We intend for this platform to be a place where Africans not only obtain relevant information about COVID-19, but also feel empowered by the stories of accomplishment and survival in the face of significant adversity. We want to deal openly with tough stories like depression and mental health, in addition to highlighting positive solutions and innovations, and the latest updates on vaccines in Africa. This platform was designed and built to inform and inspire."
Alongside being a repository of stories, the online platform seeks to be a one-stop source for COVID-19 information across the continent. It provides up-to- date data on COVID-19 cases in Africa, sourced directly from the WHO, as well as the latest information on preventative health practices, and responses to frequently asked questions about vaccines. Public health experts in Africa have stressed the importance of ensuring communities on the continent have access to accurate information on COVID-19 and vaccines, and warned about the risks that misinformation poses to effective public health responses.
"Early in the pandemic, we realized that misinformation could be just as detrimental as the disease itself," said Dr. Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which has partnered with the Mastercard Foundation on COVIDHQ Africa. "This remains true even now, as we roll out vaccines and vaccination campaigns that depend on public understanding and trust," he added. "It is vital that we provide citizens across the continent with factual information about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines from trusted public health sources in Africa."
COVIDHQ Africa is part of a broader public awareness campaign that is being carried out by the Mastercard Foundation. The campaign aims to deliver accurate, timely, and life-saving information on COVID-19 across African countries and communities.
Individuals who would like to contribute their stories to COVIDHQ Africa can do so by visiting the site at www.covidhqafrica.com. Also, follow COVIDHQ Africa on Twitter and Instagram at @COVIDHQAfrica.
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About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management. For more information on the Foundation, please visit: www.mastercardfdn.org
About the Zain Verjee Group
The Zain Verjee Group is a premier communications firm specializing in story making and communications instruments for emerging markets. The experienced team focuses on three core fields: creative story design, media management, and events.