U.S. Support for ASEAN in Fighting COVID-19

As the leader in the global health and humanitarian response to COVID-19, the United States has acted swiftly to support our ASEAN partners in combating the COVID-19 virus. Since the outbreak began, the U.S. government has provided approximately $18.3 million in emergency health and humanitarian assistance to ASEAN Member States. Globally, as of March 26, 2020, the United States is providing an initial investment of nearly $274 million in emergency health and humanitarian assistance to help countries in need, on top of the funding we already provide to multilateral organizations such as the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

This total to date includes nearly $100 million in emergency health assistance from USAID’s Global Health Emergency Reserve Fund and $110 million in humanitarian assistance from USAID’s International Disaster Assistance account, to be provided for up to 64 of the most at-risk countries facing the threat of this global pandemic. Through the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) will receive $64 million in humanitarian assistance to help address the threats posed by COVID-19 in existing humanitarian crisis situations for some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

New Funding to Support ASEAN in Fighting COVID-19:

U.S. funding to ASEAN countries on COVID-19 supports the following goals:

  • Prepare laboratories for large-scale testing for COVID-19;
  • Infection prevention and control;
  • Enable risk communication;
  • Implement public-health emergency plans for border points of entry;
  • Activate case-finding and event-based surveillance for influenza-like illnesses;
  • Train and equip rapid-responders in investigation and contact-tracing;
  • Update training materials for health workers.

U.S. government agencies spearheading out international response, including The Department of State, USAID, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working closely to allocate funds based on COVID-19 hotspots and vulnerabilities. The United States also coordinates with other donors to complement assistance and avoid duplicating efforts.

America’s Leading Support for ASEAN’s Public Health

This emergency support is in addition to the nearly $3.5 billion dollars in public health assistance the United States has provided to ASEAN Member States over the last twenty years. The United States is the global leader in public health assistance, with more than $9.5 billion allocated in 2019 to support public health overseas, including in Southeast Asia. This amount includes funding to counter pandemic threats, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis (TB), and other health needs. Since 2009, American taxpayers have generously funded more than $100 billion in health assistance and nearly $70 billion in humanitarian assistance globally. 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.

U.S. Emergency COVID-19 Support for ASEAN Countries (by country, as of March 26):

The United States is providing both technical assistance and financial support to ASEAN Member States, initially $18.3 million. That support is outlined below:

Brunei:

  • The Department of State conveyed Brunei’s request to U.S. companies for availability of respirators and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) after U.S. domestic demands are met.

Cambodia:

  • Approximately $2 million in health assistance will help the Cambodian government prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, and support technical experts for response and preparedness, and more.
  • The CDC is assisting Cambodia with contact tracing clinical management, lab testing, surveillance, and infection control.
  • A U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) infectious disease physician is assisting with clinical consultations, and developing clinical care guidelines for the Royal Phnom Penh Hospital (Cambodia’s designated treatment hospital).
  • The United States has invested long-term in Cambodia, providing more than $730 million in health and more than $1.6 billion in total assistance over the past 20 years.

Indonesia:

  • $2.3 million in health assistance will help the Indonesian government prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, and support technical experts for response and preparedness, and more.
  • CDC has provided technical assistance to Indonesian health officials. The U.S. Army-led Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS), based in Bangkok, provided reagents to run an additional 500 tests in March.
  • The United States has invested more than $1 billion in health and more than $5 billion in total assistance over the past 20 years.

Laos:

  • Nearly $2 million in health assistance will help the Lao government prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, and support technical experts for response and preparedness, and more. The Department of Defense (DOD) is working to provide additional testing equipment.
  • Six CDC specialists traveled to Laos to provide epidemiology, surveillance, and lab training.
  • The CDC and DOD led a table-top exercise and simulation with Laos government partners in March on COVID-19 mitigation. This included a simulation exercise on COVID-19 readiness and response at Wattay International Airport on 19-20 March
  • Ongoing U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) support and training, particularly the Biological Threat Reduction Program, support Lao Ministry of Health capacity to professionally test for COVID-19.
  • The United States has invested nearly $92 million in health and more than $348 million total over the past 20 years in Laos.

Malaysia:

  • The Department of State is identifying U.S. companies that can supply the Malaysian government with ventilators and PPE after U.S. domestic demands are met.
  • The Department of State is seeking to link the Malaysian Institute of Medical Research with appropriate companies and agencies for assistance with antigen testing and vaccine development training.

Myanmar:

  • Approximately $3.8 million in health and humanitarian funding will go toward water and sanitation supplies, COVID-19 case management, event-based surveillance, coordination, and more.
  • The CDC helped the Ministry of Health and Sports to launch a nationwide online tele-mentoring session on COVID-19, that is providing Myanmar’s frontline health workers with timely, accurate information on the outbreak at 100+ locations nationwide.
  • The CDC is also providing technical assistance on epidemiology, surveillance and laboratory case detection to the Myanmar’s Central Epidemiology Unit and the National Health Laboratory, and organized two rounds of technical consultations.
  • The United States has invested more than $176 million in health and more than $1.3 billion in total U.S. assistance over the past 20 years in Myanmar.

Philippines:

  • Nearly $4 million in health assistance will help the Philippines government prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, support technical experts for response and preparedness, risk communication, infection prevention and control, and more. The United States has invested more than $582 million in the Philippines’ health alone and nearly $4.5 billion in total assistance over the past 20 years.
  • The Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) provided locally sourced PPE, training, exercises, and laboratory equipment and materials.

Thailand:

  • Approximately $1.2 million in health assistance will help the Thai government prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, support technical experts for response and preparedness, risk communication, infection prevention and control, and more.
  • CDC in the United States and through its in-country team in U.S. Embassy Bangkok – have provided lab support and assistance with processing Thai national patients returning from Wuhan, China.
  • CDC has provided advice on risk communication, translation of technical materials, information on non-medical public health measures, and screening procedures at ports of entry.
  • The Department of Defense’s DTRA provided a genetic sequencer for diagnostic, surveillance, and locally sourced PPE.
  • S. long term assistance in Thailand includes more than $213 million in health and more than $1 billion in total assistance over the past 20 years.

Vietnam:

  • Nearly $3 million in health assistance will help the Vietnamese government prepare laboratory systems, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance, support technical experts for response and preparedness, risk communication, infection prevention and control, and more.
  • The CDC provided training to 15 hospitals in conjunction with the WHO, and has helped train for 63 provinces on COVID-19 surveillance, reporting, and sample collection, and is supporting Vietnam in developing its National Infection Prevention and Control guidelines for COVID-19.
  • The Vietnamese government has requested support for COVID-19 testing reagents, which is currently being coordinated with DTRA for local sourcing.
  • Over the past 20 years, the United States has invested more than $706 million in health assistance and more than $1.8 billion in total assistance for Vietnam.

ASEAN-wide: U.S. exchange programs have strengthened the expertise of the Southeast Asian medical professionals leading their countries’ fight against COVID-19. More than 1,400 physicians from ASEAN countries have been visiting scholars at U.S. universities and medical schools. Another 1,000 Southeast Asian medical and public health professionals are alumni of U.S.-sponsored exchange programs in their fields.

Regionally, the United States through NIH is active in supporting research in ASEAN countries key to countering pandemics, including on therapeutics, vaccines, and medical countermeasures. Examples include NIH work with ASEAN partners on malaria treatment and prevention, bat coronavirus spillover events, and other research of public health benefit.

The United States, through USAID and the CDC, has regional programs to boost ASEAN country capacity to prepare for outbreaks and build lab diagnostic capabilities. These include:

  • CDC improvements to laboratory safety and biosecurity across ASEAN, by certifying high-standard biological safety cabinets.
  • A CDC training course for Mekong countries (Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand) on how to counter emerging influenza threats, held in November 2019
  • Long-standing USAID support through the One Health Workforce – Next Generation project to ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand, to prepare for, prevent, detect, and respond to public health emergencies before they pose an overwhelming pandemic threat. The project aims to transform the health workforce and university public health curricula. Since 2014, over 10,000 students and professionals have been trained in infectious disease topics through the Southeast Asia One Health University Network (SEAOHUN).
  • USAID partnership with the Thailand Ministry of Public Health to build a Regional Public Health Laboratory (RPHL) network, sharing information and resources on emerging infectious diseases across ASEAN since the network’s launch in November 2019.

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