The story of U.S. leadership in the global battle against Covid-19 is a story of days, months, and decades. Every day, new U.S. technical and material assistance arrives in hospitals and labs around the world. These efforts, in turn, build on a decades-long foundation of American expertise, generosity, and planning that is unmatched in history.
The United States provides aid for altruistic reasons, because we believe it’s the right thing to do. We also do it because pandemics don’t respect national borders. If we can help counties contain outbreaks, we’ll save lives abroad and at home in the U.S.
That generosity and pragmatism explains why United States was one of the first countries to help to the Chinese people as soon as reports emerged from Wuhan of another outbreak. In early January, the United States government offered immediate technical assistance to the Chinese Centers for Disease Control.
In the first week of February, the U.S. transported nearly 18 tons of medical supplies to Wuhan provided by Samaritan’s Purse, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and others. We also pledged $100 million in assistance to countries to fight what would become a pandemic – including an offer to China, which was declined.
Our response now far surpasses that initial pledge. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. government has committed nearly $500 million in assistance to date. This funding will improve public health education, protect healthcare facilities, and increase laboratory, disease-surveillance, and rapid-response capacity in more than 60 of the world’s most at risk countries– all in an effort to help contain outbreaks before they reach our shores.
Our aid helps people in the most dire circumstances. For instance, the U.S. government works with NGOs to deliver medicines, medical supplies, and food to the Syrian people, including those living in regime-held areas. We are helping United Nations agencies and nongovernmental organizations build more water, sanitation and health facilities across northern Syria to prevent the spread of the virus. We are aiding friends from Africa to Asia, and beyond.
America’s unsurpassed contributions are also felt through the many international organizations fighting Covid-19 on the front lines.
The U.S. has been the largest funder of the World Health Organization since its founding in 1948. We gave more than $400 million to the institution in 2019 – nearly double the second-largest contribution and more than the next three contributors combined.
It’s a similar story with the U.N. Refugee Agency, which the U.S. backed with nearly $1.7 billion in 2019. That’s more than all other member states combined, and more than four times the second-largest contributor, Germany.
Then there is the World Food Program, to which the U.S. gave $3.4 billion last year, or 42% of its total budget. That’s nearly four times the second-largest contributor, and more than all other member states combined. We also gave more than $700 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than any other donor.
We are proud that when these international organizations deliver food, medicines, and other aid all around the world, that too is largely thanks to the generosity of the American people, in partnership with donor nations.
Our country continues to be the single largest health and humanitarian donor for both long-term development and capacity building efforts with partners, and emergency response efforts in the face of recurrent crises. This money has saved lives, protected people who are most vulnerable to disease, built health institutions, and promoted the stability of communities and nations.
America funds nearly 40% of the world’s global health assistance programs, adding up to $140 billion in investments in the past 20 years – five times more than the next largest donor. Since 2009, American taxpayers have generously funded more than $100 billion in health assistance and nearly $70 billion in humanitarian assistance globally.
Health systems strengthening has long been among the U.S.’s top priorities in Mali. Long term investments in Malian health systems and capacity are now being used by the government of Mali to respond to the COVID19 crisis. Among these interventions are a robust USAID health program that covers a wide array of technical areas including maternal and child survival, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, malaria, HIV/AIDS and emerging epidemics threats. Last year’s USAID health budget was $67.3 million. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is not appropriated funding to provide foreign assistance, however it is able to support highly-meritorious international research directly and through partnerships. In Mali, a biomedical research partnership with the University of Sciences, Techniques, and Technologies of Bamako (USTTB) over the last twenty-five years has helped make Malian scientists regional leaders in infectious disease research. As part of this ongoing partnership, in fiscal year 2019, NIH provided over $11 million to help support research activities at Mali’s International Center of Excellence in Research (ICER Mali). The University Clinical Research Center (UCRC) is a component of the Mali ICER and it was established as a joint initiative between the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Mali’s Ministries of Health and Social Affairs and National Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research. The two ministries are now supporting the UCRC to conduct COVID-19 testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has trained 114 Malian epidemiologists who are now doing contact tracing to contain the spread of COVID 19. CDC also helped Mali establish its National Health Emergency Center. Together, these U.S. Agencies have strengthened the Global Health Security Agenda and One Health Platform in Mali, supporting the Government of Mali to prevent, detect and respond to deadly outbreaks through animal and human disease surveillance, laboratory and drug logistics management systems, infection prevention and control, and emergency response.
The U.S. is already helping Mali with its immediate needs in facing COVID 19. The first testing kits for COVID 19 were provided by the United States early in the crisis. The U.S. provided material and technical support to the Ministry of Territorial Administration in order to mitigate the COVID 19 risk during the legislative elections. We are currently procuring the equipment needed to expand the capacity of the Ministry of Health’s Green Line, which allows Malians to call in to report symptoms of COVID-19, and receive in-home testing and medical follow-up, a system which facilitates contact tracing. In addition to our bilateral response, we are also supporting international organizations in their COVID 19 response in Mali – for instance, the Department of State just announced a voluntary contribution of $1.275 million to UNHCR’s COVID 19 appeal for Mali. In addition, USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance just approved $2 million for Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Health, and Risk Communications and Community Engagement (RCCE) operations to prevent and prepare for COVID outbreaks in uniquely vulnerable populations, especially Internally Displaced Persons.
In the coming days and weeks we expect to announce substantial new budget allocations to help Mali in the global fight against COVID 19.
Our help is much more than money and supplies. It’s the experts we have deployed worldwide, and those still conducting tutorials today via teleconference. It’s the doctors and public-health professionals trained, thanks to U.S. money and educational institutions. And it’s the supply chains that we keep open and moving for U.S. companies producing and distributing high-quality critical medical supplies around the world.
Of course, it isn’t just our government helping the world. American businesses, NGOs, and faith-based organizations have given at least $1.5 billion to fight the pandemic overseas. American companies are innovating new technologies for vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and ventilators. This is American exceptionalism at its finest.
As we have time and time again, the United States will aid others during their time of greatest need. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different. We will continue to help countries build resilient health care systems that can prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks. Just as the U.S. has made the world more healthy, peaceful, and prosperous for generations, so will we lead in defeating our shared pandemic enemy, and rising stronger in its wake.