Chargé d’Affaires George Sibley’s Remarks as Prepared
Virtual Press Briefing on U.S. Assistance to Myanmar for COVID-19 Response
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Mingalaba, I’m George Sibley, chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy here in Myanmar. I appreciate that you are all joining us remotely for this press briefing. In addition to keeping our colleagues, friends, and counterparts safe, we also hope this format allows journalists from different parts of Myanmar to join.
As the world faces the global COVID-19 pandemic together, the United States is working closely with communities, stakeholders, and the Ministry of Health and Sports to respond across Myanmar.
Today, I am proud to announce that we will provide an additional $1.95 million in U.S. government assistance through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bringing the total U.S. government assistance to Myanmar for COVID-19 response to $18.5 million since February 2020.
The new funding from CDC will support the Ministry of Health and Sports’ field epidemiology training program and will strengthen health workers’ ability to monitor and track diseases. This support is important in combatting COVID-19 and other diseases.
You will soon hear directly from the USAID Mission Director and from the CDC Director in Myanmar about their work. Our efforts to combat COVID-19 augment broader U.S. commitments in health to Myanmar and to the region.
The U.S. government contribution to Myanmar’s COVID-19 response builds on our longstanding cooperation. USAID has been providing health assistance to Myanmar since 2003 and CDC established its own office in Myanmar in 2015.
We have faced shared challenges before, and I am confident we can overcome them again together. We’ve made measurable progress reducing deaths from preventable diseases. Through our cooperation, we have seen a drop in malaria cases by more than 80% from 2012-2018, and a 46% decline in active TB prevalence from 2008-2018. In addition, we have helped more than 40,000 people at risk of HIV access testing at U.S.-supported clinics in 2019. This assistance reaches millions of people in Myanmar.
Our support to Myanmar is part of a bigger picture of U.S. commitments on health in the region. In April, Secretary Pompeo joined ASEAN counterparts in a virtual meeting on COVID-19. Their joint statement reaffirmed the value of ASEAN-U.S. cooperation on health. The United States has provided $3.5 billion in public health assistance to ASEAN member states over the last 20 years and is the largest health donor in the region.
We are also one of the largest bilateral donors in Myanmar on responding to COVID-19. The United States is providing life-saving support to people in Myanmar through these contributions, whether through hand washing stations in communities with limited access to water, through life-saving information for families and health workers on how to prevent and respond to the disease, or through technical expertise and equipment to strengthen laboratories and scale up testing.
U.S. assistance to address the COVID-19 pandemic comes on top of our long-term investments in Myanmar that total more than $1.3 billion over the last twenty years, including more than $176 million in health.
I’ll now turn it over to my colleagues, and look forward to your questions.
[ Burmese Translation – PDF | 350 KB ]