As of June 4, 2020, over 200 countries and territories around the world have been directly affected by the spread of COVID-19, with over 6.6 million cases reported globally. While the number of people infected continues to grow, so too does the information on preventing the spread and ultimately eliminating the threat that the virus presents. However, while individual nations have taken different precautions to combat the spread of COVID-19, it remains clear that no single nation will be able to stop COVID-19 by itself. It will require deep collaboration between governments, multilateral organizations, NGOs, and the private sector to equip local communities and frontline workers with the tools and information needed to fight back against the virus, which is where organizations such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) come in. As the world’s premier international development agency, USAID—alongside the U.S. government—has allocated more than $1 billion towards combatting COVID-19 and has remained committed to working with partner nations and organizations to maintain public health around the world. This webinar heard directly from John Barsa, Acting Administrator of USAID, about how USAID is responding to the pandemic both domestically and abroad.
John Barsa, Acting Administrator for USAID, provided an overview of how the agency has addressed the pandemic.
With USAID accounting for more than 40% of total global health funding, the agency is playing a critical role in equipping local communities with the necessary tools to fight the virus and tailoring solutions specifically according to each country’s needs.
Given USAID’s existing footprint, the agency is uniquely positioned to assess the capabilities and capacities of different healthcare systems across the globe. The agency has developed programs and metric systems to measure a country’s progress and regression.
The unprecedented nature of the virus has forced USAID to work in an innovative manner, responding rapidly and taking risks. Government agencies have differing levels of experience with telework, but given that USAID cannot retreat from the world stage, the agency had to adapt quickly in order to operate effectively and remain present.
Today, in the face of COVID-19, USAID is acting boldly, with clear leadership in areas such as health, humanitarian relief, economic security, and stabilization efforts worldwide, with millions in funding. Generous action, public transparency, good governance, and coalition building are integral to USAID’s approach.
Barsa shared his belief that the US will strengthen its medical abilities in the wake of today’s pandemic—with attention focused on education, hospitals, medical staff, and the management of medical emergencies.