Financial Technology Meets Immunization

Global payments specialist Mastercard has partnered with Gavi, a public-private organization

Global payments specialist Mastercard has partnered with Gavi, a public-private organization that is working to boost immunization of children in poor countries, to collaborate on a project to ensure parents and medical professionals in five developing markets have access to children’s immunization records.

The agreement came after GAVI operatives in the field realized that one of the main roadblocks to deploying immunization programmes in many developing countries was a lack of reliable healthcare and immunization records for children. Michael Froman, vice chairman and president of strategic growth at Mastercard, said that talks between the two organisations about developing a solution to the problem started in 2017, resulting in the partnership struck in December.

The partnership will leverage Mastercard’s expertise and technology, enabling ministries of health and authorized health workers to provide a card with a digital immunization record to each participating child’s caregiver. The program aims to strengthen the efficiency and reach of health services in developing countries where children are most at risk of missing out on immunization. One in five children in Gavi-supported countries are still not reached with basic lifesaving vaccines. Governments will also benefit from having a better understanding of the immunization needs of their communities.

“We have agreed with GAVI to pilot this in five countries and we are working through the details of that now. As we roll out the project we will be able to monitor and ensure that it’s working successfully, then we will be able to deploy it in other countries of the GAVI network,” Froman said.

“We’re starting off small with five pilots but we hope to ramp it up as much and as quickly as we can. We’d like as broad a coverage as possible. We don’t have a particular number as a goal right now but a lot will depend on how it’s adopted and how it’s used and what countries we take it to next.”

Aside from the philanthropic benefits, there are also longer term commercial benefits from working on the project, according to Froman. “It’s very much in our interest that people at the base of the pyramid have healthy lives, educate their children, have access to financial security, access to credit. That is an important part of making sure these countries are stable and inclusive in their economic growth. We benefit in countries that are inclusive and growing well, and so it’s very much in our company’s interest that the base of the pyramids succeeds.”

Importantly, this type of project also offers companies like Mastercard an opportunity to learn about the needs of other sectors and markets. “This is also an opportunity for us as a company to experiment with business models, technology and distribution models,” he said.

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