Today, at the Global Action Plan (GAP) Ministerial on the margins of the 77th United Nations General Assembly, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced that USAID has advanced its programming in two important areas across twenty lower-and middle-income countries. The first supports the introduction of “test-to-treat programming” for populations at high-risk of severe illness from COVID-19. The ten countries announced today include: Bangladesh, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Senegal.
The second initiative will expand access to lifesaving oxygen supplies in more than a dozen countries. These have been identified as Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Ghana, Jamaica, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zambia.
Test-to-Treat Programming Launches in Ten Countries
Test-to-treat programming prepares health systems, health workers, and communities to make rapid COVID-19 testing broadly accessible for people to get tested as soon as they develop COVID-19 symptoms. It then ensures that those at highest risk of severe illness can access key oral treatment options early in their COVID-19 illness to prevent severe disease and hospitalization. Integrating test-to-treat programming strengthens health systems’ capacities to quickly identify new infections and initiate appropriate treatment in high-risk patients. Treating sick patients while they are still at home and before they get too sick can reduce severe COVID-19 illness and death, and reduce the burden on health systems. At the Second Global COVID-19 Summit in May 2022, USAID had announced a $20 million investment in piloting test-to-treat programming and other ancillary support.
USAID’s announcement that it and its implementing partners will be working with Ministries of Health, civil society, healthcare workers, and others such as The Global Fund in the ten identified countries to pilot test-to-treat programming marks exciting progress. The best practices and lessons learned from these efforts will help countries develop plans to scale up their programs on a national level, and can be shared with countries around the world, including the United States. The pilots will position countries to act quickly in the case of a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Expanding access to medical oxygen
As a global leader in supporting increased access to lifesaving oxygen in health facilities that lack this critical medical supply, USAID’s holistic approach to expanding access to oxygen focuses on health systems needs. This includes training healthcare workers and building the engineering and logistics capacity of countries to operate and maintain these oxygen systems for the long term.
USAID is building off the $50 million investment to expand global access to medical oxygen and announced that this work will support facilities across Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Ghana, Jamaica, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zambia to build and improve healthcare systems that support the use of bulk liquid oxygen.
Through previously-announced COVID-19 funding, USAID is also employing market-based approaches that lower the price of oxygen. By working with the private sector, these approaches aim to make the future purchase of oxygen more affordable for governments. This market-shaping work will start in Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.
USAID’s work to increase access to oxygen will save COVID-19 patients, and it will have lasting benefits beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States’ commitment to increasing access to oxygen will also support other global health programs, such as those that address child and adult pneumonia, safe birth, safe surgery, and new infectious disease outbreaks.