An Update to our Partners on COVID-19

Friday, April 10, 2020

Today marks my final day at the helm of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). It has been an extraordinary privilege to work with partners like you in pursuit of a safer, freer, and more prosperous world, and I know that you'll continue to provide invaluable support to USAID's mission. Before I step away, I wanted to provide an update on the Agency's COVID-19 response efforts.

In recent days, many have called for a renewed focus on global health security as we confront the challenge of COVID-19 at home and abroad. I want to highlight the investments USAID has made throughout the years—working with partners like you—to prepare for this moment. Together, we have helped countries strengthen their health systems and build the capacity to be ready to respond to a pandemic like this. As challenging as the situation is, the world would be in a much more perilous position without the foundation you helped lay.

We are also scaling up a global response to the ongoing crisis. Together with the State Department, we have already mobilized nearly $500 million in emergency health and humanitarian assistance for at-risk and affected countries, and more is on the way.

These response efforts build upon decades of work to strengthen global health security. In just the last twenty years, USAID and the State Department have invested nearly $120 billion to foster accessible, responsive, resilient health care systems around the world. Those resources have helped to establish a health security foundation in many countries.

Through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), we've provided tools that have enabled countries to bring their HIV/AIDS epidemics under control. By helping to found and launch the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, we've supported innovative, locally-led approaches and empowered communities to fight these deadly diseases. And through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, we've helped vaccinate more than 760 million children around the world against outbreak prone diseases.

Under these and other initiatives, we have built essential health care and infectious disease response capacity in countries that would not otherwise exist.

Those large global initiatives complement our bilateral work in countries over the years to train frontline health care workers, to ensure medical facilities have equipment and medicine, and to establish disease-surveillance and risk-monitoring networks. We've also invested heavily in building national laboratory research and testing capacity. And because so many infectious disease outbreaks in humans are of animal origin, we've helped countries improve livestock and wildlife surveillance networks—work that has facilitated the collection and testing of more than 100,000 samples in high-risk areas over the past decade.

We saw a striking example of the value of this work last August, when an Ebola-infected individual crossed from the Democratic Republic of the Congo into Uganda. There, U.S.-supported surveillance networks and laboratories immediately identified the case, confirmed the results via lab testing, and took actions to quarantine the individual and safeguard populations. Thanks to these actions, there were no further cases.

Many parts of the world are now in a difficult battle to contain and defeat COVID-19. As we always have, the United States is standing with people in their time of greatest need.

In mid-January, several of our employees with a background in infectious-disease outbreaks supported early planning efforts at the White House. Later that month, I activated our internal Administrator's Crisis Action Team to coordinate the Agency's early response.

In early February, we began to provide assistance in affected or at-risk countries. When cases began to accelerate, we tapped into our Emergency Reserve Fund for Contagious Infectious-Disease Outbreaks, which let us deploy additional resources.

On March 9, USAID activated the COVID-19 Task Force, led by Dr. Ken Staley and staffed by teams from across the Agency. The Task Force has led our response, helping us to quickly scale-up our efforts. Last week, we announced new funding for programs in up to 64 countries around the world.

With the additional resources provided by Congress, we will continue to assist others and help end the pandemic.

We could not succeed in our mission without the support of our partners. You play a significant role in developing, implementing, and monitoring our investments. I thank you for your partnership, and wish you all the best in the future.
 

Sincerely,

Mark Green
Administrator
U.S. Agency for International Development

Last updated: April 13, 2020

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