By Acting USAID Administrator John Barsa
When a global health crisis arises, America does not wait to be called; we respond with aid and support.
Throughout history, when the planet has faced crises, America always has acted boldly to save lives and sustain and strengthen a free, peaceful, and prosperous world. Foreign-assistance programs through the Marshall Plan, Peace Corps, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have come to the aid of millions of people across the globe.
For more than half a century, the U.S. Government has been the world’s largest contributor to global health security and humanitarian assistance, having invested more than $140 billion. We were on the frontlines in the fight against Ebola. We support communities in the battle against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. And now we are providing immediate assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In short, America Acts.
We always have. We always will.
Since novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 appeared late last year in the People’s Republic of China, USAID and the U.S. Department of State have committed more than $1.3 billion in health, humanitarian, economic, and development assistance specifically aimed at fighting what has become the pandemic of COVID-19. This funding, provided by the American people through Congress, is helping to save lives in more than 120 countries by improving public-health education; protecting health-care facilities; and increasing capacity in laboratories, disease-surveillance, and rapid response.
Americans have invested more than $85 billion to fight HIV/AIDS through PEPFAR, the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history, and hundreds of millions more to fight other killer diseases, including Ebola and tuberculosis, around the world.
Over the past 20 years, for example, USAID’s funding has helped Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, vaccinate more than 760 million children, which has prevented 13 million deaths. PMI has helped save more than 7 million lives and prevent more than 1 billion cases of malaria worldwide since 2000.
These investments in global health through the decades have enabled governments, civil society, and the private sector in our partner countries to build local capacity and strengthen health and democratic institutions, to aid them to respond better to global health crises.
In the fight against COVID-19, the United States is again acting boldly and demonstrating clear and decisive leadership.
Teams across the U.S. Government — including from USAID; the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, and State; the U.S. Development Finance Corporation; and more — are working together as part of an all-of-America response to invest $2.4 billion in emergency supplemental funding allocated by Congress in health care, humanitarian assistance, economic interventions, security, and stabilization worldwide.
Globally, USAID is providing high-quality, transparent, and meaningful assistance to equip local communities with the tools needed to stop the spread of the virus. For example, USAID is providing $23 million to procure ventilators for key partners and allies.
And these numbers do not reflect the generosity of private businesses, non-profit groups, charities, faith-based organizations, and individuals across the United States, as well as the ingenuity of our scientists, researchers, and innovators.
Together, these businesses and organizations have provided $4 billion in donations and assistance to combat COVID-19, which account for nearly 80 percent of global philanthropic efforts against the disease.
Our all-of-America response is the right approach because we know that adding the power of private enterprise and individual ingenuity to governmental efforts is the surest pathway to sustainable development.
All around the world, we are tapping into the innovation of private business to implement creative, market-based solutions to development challenges. To make it easier for innovators to contribute solutions, we have worked with the Global Innovation Exchange to develop a COVID-19 website to provide a clearinghouse of innovations applicable to the response, as well as a list of funding opportunities related to COVID-19.
In addition, our prior investments in transformative innovations, such as the Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge, Digital Square, and the Saving Lives at Birth Grand Challenge, continue to provide cutting-edge tools to support the response to COVID-19.
No other country — certainly not malign actors like the People’s Republic of China — can match this unparalleled generosity. The foreign assistance program of the Chinese Communist Party has nothing to do with development, and everything to do with intimidation, influence, resources, corruption, and power.
America will continue to show another model, one of generous action to fight this global threat.
We know that in our increasingly interconnected world, an infectious-disease threat anywhere is a threat everywhere. We are proud of America’s investments in global health that are saving the lives of millions of people every year and remain one of the best strategic moves we can make, not only for America’s health, safety, and security, but also for the world’s.
America Acts. Always.
About the Author
John Barsa is the Acting Administrator of USAID.