US$37 million pledged by USAID to fight against COVID-19

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The U.S. Government has announced  a commitment of US$37 million in financing from the Emergency Reserve Fund for Contagious Infectious Diseases at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for 25 countries, including the Philippines, affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)  or at high risk of its spread.

The U.S. Government is providing these funds to the World Health Organization, other multilateral institutions, and programs led by USAID’s implementing partners, according to a statement by USAID Administrator Mark Green.

These are the first U.S. Government funds committed from the pledge of up to US$100 million announced by the U.S. Department of State on February 7, 2020, said Green.

“Because an infectious-disease threat anywhere can be a threat everywhere, we call on other donors to contribute to the effort to combat COVID-19 as well,” Green said.

Building on ongoing USAID and other U.S. Government investments to help prepare and respond to infectious diseases under the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), the new funding will help address the threat of COVID-19 in the following high-priority countries: The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; the Republics of Angola, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kenya, South Africa, Tajikistan, The Philippines, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe; the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Burma; the Kingdom of Cambodia; the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; the Kyrgyz Republic; the Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Mongolia; the Federal Republic of Nepal; the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; the Kingdom of Thailand; and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Green said funds that are going to the WHO will help the governments of currently affected or at-risk developing countries prepare their laboratories for large-scale testing for COVID-19, implement a public-health emergency plan for points of entry, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance for influenza-like illnesses, train and equip rapid-response teams, investigate cases and trace the contacts of infected persons, and adapt training materials for health workers on COVID-19.

Funds that are going through a broad range of other partners will support six broad areas of work: laboratory-strengthening; surveillance for, and rapid response to, infectious diseases; risk-communications and engagement with communities; public-health screening at points of entry; the prevention and control of infections in health facilities; and the management of cases of COVID-19, said Green.

In addition, in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, in the People’s Republic of China, USAID has reviewed, and responded to, requests from the governments of affected countries for donations from their emergency international stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE).

In close coordination with the WHO and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, this distribution of PPE – such as goggles, gowns, face shields/masks, and gloves- complements previous charitable donations from many U.S. private-sector entities.

For decades, the United States has been the world’s largest provider of bilateral assistance in public health. Between USAID and the U.S. Department of State, American taxpayers generously have made available more than US$90 billion dollars for health globally since 2009.

This money has saved lives, protected people who are most vulnerable to disease, built health institutions, and promoted the stability of communities and nations. Of that figure, USAID has invested over $1.1 billion dollars since 2009 to prevent, detect, and respond to endemic and emerging health threats, including diseases like COVID-19.

USAID’s investments in global health security in the last 15 years, as well as contributions under the GHSA since 2015, have helped improve surveillance for deadly pathogens, strengthened laboratory systems, and refined risk-communications; funded the response to outbreaks of deadly illnesses; and addressed the rising threat of antimicrobial resistance.

USAID designs the investments under the GHSA to protect the American public by helping to minimize the spread of disease in affected countries and improve local and global responses to outbreaks of infectious pathogens, Green also said./Stacy Ang

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