Ambassador Miller’s Remarks at COVID-19 Doctors Training; New USAID Funding Announcement

June 15, 2020

Assalamualaikum, suvechha sobaike and a very good morning.

Prof. Dr. Saniya Tahmina Additional Director General, Directorate General of Health Services Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Derrick Brown, USAID Mission Director.

Participants and friends from the media.

Bangladesh and the United States, and nations around the world, are working together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The true heroes in this battle are the frontline workers of all sectors directly confronting the pandemic – especially health workers.  We must do all we can to ensure their safety as they help us stay safe.

Our commitment to each other has never been more important.  And America’s commitment to Bangladesh has never been stronger.

It’s a pleasure to be with you today to celebrate another successful U.S.-Bangladesh partnership to fight COVID-19.  Since May, 2020 the U.S. government, through USAID, has joined with the Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to launch a two-day training course on infection prevention and control, and case management on COVID-19 for newly-recruited doctors and nurses.

Today, we’re joining the last cohort of physicians starting the program.  Since this training program began, 1,000 physicians have participated.  They will train other professionals to effectively manage COVID-19 cases to help contain the spread of the disease.  I am proud the United States is part of this important program.

Now, more than ever, people need encouragement and mental strength to fight the invisible enemy of COVID-19.  The dedicated doctors starting the training today possess the strength and resilience to help your patients fight and survive this disease.

Dr. Salauddin Avi received this training and has been working in Kurmitola General Hospital since May 22nd.

Dr. Avi manages 40 patients a day.  He said, “this training has built my capacity, and now I’m more confident than ever in identifying categories of COVID-19 patients, complications, and prescribing correct medicine, and oxygen therapy for patients.”  Think of that.  Since May 22 alone hundreds of patients are receiving better care from this physician alone.  Multiply that by 1000 doctors and even more nurses, and you can see what an impact your participation in this program is having here in Bangladesh.

This training is another example of how the U.S. government is supporting the people of Bangladesh during this challenging time.  USAID and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are actively engaged with Government of Bangladesh health officials, and we are working with hospitals and health facilities around the country to strengthen Bangladesh’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

I’m pleased to announce, today, the U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing more than $173 million in new funding to strengthen development activities in Bangladesh and complement the Government of Bangladesh’s ongoing efforts to respond to the spread of the COVID-19.  This new funding includes over $17 million in health and humanitarian assistance.  This is in addition to the over $19 million USAID has already provided to support Bangladesh’s COVID-19 response efforts.  And it is part of over $1 billion in assistance from the U.S. government for emergency health, humanitarian, economic, and development assistance specifically aimed at helping governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations fight the pandemic in more than 120 countries around the world.

I am especially pleased our new USAID funding will provide life-saving food assistance to thousands of urban under-privileged people in Dhaka.

The additional COVID-19 funding will support a new program to provide cash-based transfers for food to thousands of urban poor, living in low-income areas of Kalyanpur and Sattala Bosti, and help re-establish linkages between markets and farmers, by improving supply chains affected by this pandemic.

This funding will also expand support for monitoring communities, improving infection prevention and control activities, and increasing knowledge and dispelling myths and misconceptions about the disease.

USAID has recently partnered with Save the Children to support case management in COVID hospitals in Bangladesh.  USAID also developed an online reporting system for COVID-19 commodity management.  Six hundred and thirty-nine (639) health facilities out of 658 — 97% of health facilities in the country — are now using this online system for managing supplies used to treat COVID-19 patients.  DGHS is also using this data management system to help ensure rational distribution of personal protective equipment and other COVID response items.

The United States is committed to helping all Bangladeshis have access to life-saving health services.  In 2019 alone, more than 40 million people received quality health services through USAID-supported programs in Bangladesh.

I wish the doctors joining us today every success in this training program.  And, I wish all the doctors who have participated in this program since its inception and all the frontline medical care workers who will receive training from them, my best wishes and heartfelt thanks. You’re truly Bangladesh’s finest heroes.

Be strong.  Be kind.  Be well.

Dhan’yabāda.  Thank you.