Embassy of the United States of America
Public Affairs Section
Funding builds on more than $1 billion in health assistance to Bangladesh over the past 20 years, and includes funding for the free, online COVID-19 training course for doctors across Bangladesh inaugurated via a virtual ceremony today.
DHAKA, May 07, 2020 – The U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has provided over $22 million to complement the Government of Bangladesh’s ongoing efforts to prepare and respond to the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This funding builds on more than $1 billion in health assistance provided to Bangladesh over the past 20 years and underscores the long-term U.S. commitment to ensuring access to quality, lifesaving health services for all people in Bangladesh.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. government has committed more than $900 million worldwide in emergency health, humanitarian, economic and development assistance specifically aimed at helping governments, international organizations, and NGOs fight the pandemic. This funding will save lives by improving public health education, protecting healthcare facilities, and increasing laboratory, disease-surveillance, and rapid-response capacity in more than 120 countries. In Bangladesh, the United States is supporting the country’s COVID-19 readiness and response in the following areas: strengthening diagnostic and laboratory capacity; increasing case management and infection prevention and control practices; improving supply chain and logistics management systems; and enhancing risk communication messages to increase knowledge and dispel myths and misconceptions.
Today’s official launch of the USAID, Bangladesh Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) jointly created online training course on COVID-19 for Bangladeshi doctors is just one example of recent initiatives made possible through U.S. government funding and cooperation. The course provides doctors with useful information on COVID-19, including how to deal with it as a health professional while ensuring one’s own protection and safety, and can be accessed for free by doctors anywhere in Bangladesh through the government’s e-learning platform Muktopaath. The activity is implemented by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Communication Programs, and the online platform is managed by Access to information (a2i), a cabinet division under the Bangladesh Government’s ICT division that supports the government’s digital Bangladesh agenda.
In remarks at today’s virtual launch ceremony, United States Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller commented, “Ramadan reminds us to think about and thank the front-line workers confronting this crisis. They perform remarkable acts of service every day – health care workers, police, people who work in grocery stores and pharmacies and other businesses, so we have what we need to care for ourselves and our families. I would add journalists. You provide what any vibrant democracy needs, especially in times of crisis – objective information, facts and the truth. The work of journalists, photojournalists, and media outlets often comes with sacrifice, including here in Bangladesh …You are all genuine heroes … You deserve our immense gratitude.”
The United States was one of the first countries in the world to provide funds for Bangladesh’s COVID-19 readiness and response efforts. “Today, the U. S. government, through USAID, is joining hands with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to launch an online course on COVID-19 for doctors across Bangladesh … This course will enhance doctor’s knowledge of safety precautions in the treatment of COVID-19 patients … Our support in response to COVID-19 reaffirms the United States’ long-term commitment to Bangladesh,” Ambassador Miller said.
USAID is also working with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to strengthen the country’s laboratory capacity by embedding and training technical staff.
USAID is also working with the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) to conduct surveillance to identify and track individuals infected by COVID-19 and the people they have been in contact with to prevent further spread of the disease and to foster data driven decision-making. Additionally, the U.S. government has been supporting the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) to develop national guidelines on infection prevention and control, and train more than 1,900 health professionals on different aspects of COVID-19 management, and infection control and prevention. These trainees represent central, divisional and district hospitals, including the hospitals across the country designated for COVID-19 testing and treatment. USAID has also helped the Government of Bangladesh develop an electronic logistics management information (LMIS) tool to track and manage the commodities needed for COVID-19 prevention.
For over 50 years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been a technical assistance and scientific partner with Bangladesh, beginning with research and moving into other public health issues over the years. Since 1999, the CDC has had a medical epidemiologist based in Bangladesh supporting WHO and then icddr,b with a focus on helping the Government of Bangladesh strengthen public health system and develop more public health experts. This includes a proposal to add a medical epidemiologist, and eventually a full public health unit, in each district in the country.
For decades, the United States has been the world’s largest provider of bilateral assistance in public health. Since 2009, American taxpayers have generously made available more than $100 billion dollars in health assistance and nearly $70 million in humanitarian assistance globally. This generosity is underscored by our contributions to several crucial multilateral partners, which includes:
- S. support to the United Nations (UN) Refugee Agency (UNHCR) of nearly $1.7 billion contributed in 2019. This support will be critical going forward, as refugee populations are uniquely vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- S. contributions to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2019 totaled more than $700 million. The life-saving activities UNICEF has been doing for years — such as immunization campaigns and health and sanitation training and assistance — will save lives as we fight COVID-19.
The Embassy is providing other vital resources and technical assistance to respond to the pandemic, including support to custom officials and other key personnel critical to ensure the country’s food supply and frontline police and emergency service providers risking their lives to protect ours.