DHAKA, Bangladesh -- The U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing more than $173 million in new funding to complement the Government of Bangladesh’s ongoing efforts to respond to the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including a new food assistance program for 100,000 urban poor living in low-income areas of Dhaka, and to strengthen development activities and post-COVID-19 recovery in Bangladesh.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. government has committed more than $1 billion in U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) emergency health, humanitarian, economic, and development assistance specifically aimed at helping governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations (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 U.S. government, through USAID alone, has provided nearly $37 million to support COVID-19 response efforts.
Today’s event marks the last batch of newly recruited Bangladeshi doctors participating in a joint USAID- Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS)-offered, two-day, in-person training focused on COVID-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) and case management, and is just one example of recent initiatives made possible through U.S. government funding and cooperation. The training, implemented by international NGO Management Sciences for Health, will enable participating doctors and nurses to effectively treat infected persons while keeping themselves safe and helping to reduce the spread of the virus. At the conclusion of this week’s course, 1,000 new doctors will have participated in the two-day training. They in turn will train 3,000 newly recruited nurses and other health care practitioners in their respective hospitals.
The new funding, announced during today’s event, includes $17 million in health and humanitarian assistance to help Bangladesh respond to COVID-19. The additional assistance will support a new program to provide cash-based transfers for food to 100,000 urban poor living in low-income areas of Kalyanpur and Sattala Bosti, and re-establish linkages between markets and local agricultural production, as well as support supply chains.
This new round of assistance will also expand support for community surveillance, infection prevention and control activities, including training for heroic frontline responders, and increase knowledge and dispel myths and misconceptions about the disease. Additionally, USAID will initiate new activities to improve case management and strengthen regulatory and quality standards for local production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies for local use as well as for export worldwide, helping to keep people employed and benefitting the Bangladeshi economy.
Speaking at today’s event, U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller said, “The United States is proud to provide financial and technical assistance for Bangladesh’s COVID-19 readiness and response efforts. I am especially pleased our new USAID funding will provide life-saving food assistance to thousands of urban, under-privileged people in Dhaka. It is one more way that we are partnering with Bangladesh to address the impact of COVID-19.”
In addition to supporting COVID-19 and humanitarian response efforts, on May 3, USAID Mission Director Derrick Brown signed a bilateral agreement amendment with the Government of Bangladesh to support more than $156 million in development activities in the country. These activities will help Bangladesh address development challenges, including the impact of COVID-19, that threaten to undermine its economic potential and stability and they exemplify the strong partnership between our two countries.
Speaking at today’s event, USAID Mission Director Brown said, “I’m proud that USAID has been a long-standing partner of Bangladesh and is committed to helping achieve Bangladesh’s goal of becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2031.”
The U.S. government, through USAID, has provided more than $7 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh since 1971. In 2019, USAID provided over $200 million to improve the lives of people in Bangladesh through programs that expand food security and economic opportunity, improve health and education, promote democratic institutions and practices, protect the environment, and increase resilience to climate change.
In addition to USAID support, the U.S. government is providing other vital resources and assistance to respond to the pandemic to Bangladesh, including technical assistance and other support through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team based in Dhaka, and 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 everyone living in Bangladesh.