For Immediate Release
March 6, 2020
U.S. Responds to MOHS Request for COVID-19 Assistance
NAY PYI TAW — The United States continues its assistance to and partnership with Myanmar in preparation for any potential spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Teresa McGhie handed over Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Dr. U Myint Htwe, the Minister of Health and Sports at a meeting in Nay Pyi Taw on March 6. Ms. McGhie briefed the Minister on the recently announced $37 million in financing from the USAID Emergency Reserve Fund for Contagious Infectious Diseases for 25 countries affected by COVID-19, or at high risk of its spread, including Myanmar.
“This Personal Protective Equipment is given in the spirit of friendship between the American people and the people of Myanmar,” said Teresa McGhie. “These critical supplies will help support medical professionals and health workers as Myanmar strives to prevent the spread of new infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus. We are proud to support health workers and at-risk populations in Myanmar in this effort,” she said.
Personal protective equipment will protect and enable health workers in Myanmar to respond quickly and safely to potential patients, who may display cold or flu-like symptoms. This assistance comes at the request of Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports. The PPE, donated by the United States through USAID, includes 30,000 surgical masks, 1,500 face shields, 1,500 face masks, 1,500 gowns, 1,500 shoe covers, and 1,000 safety goggles to enhance preparedness for potential COVID-19 cases. USAID, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), keeps a stockpile of personal protective equipment for health workers to deploy when needed in emergencies.
This assistance complements the ongoing U.S. technical assistance to the Ministry from senior epidemiologists in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This includes technical support on active surveillance and clinical telementoring approaches to educate the healthcare workforce of Myanmar, as well as laboratory technical assistance to best utilize the supplies provided by the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS), a joint U.S.-Thai collaboration.
Globally, USAID’s Emergency Reserve Funds will help the governments of currently affected or at-risk developing countries prepare their laboratories for large-scale testing for COVID-19, implement a public-health emergency plan for points of entry, activate case-finding and event-based surveillance for influenza-like illnesses, train and equip rapid-response teams, investigate cases and trace the contacts of infected persons, and adapt training materials for health workers on COVID-19. Additionally, funds will also support risk-communications and engagement with communities, the prevention and control of infections in health facilities, and the management of cases of COVID-19.
Ms. McGhie and the Minister discussed how the Ministry plans to distribute the protective equipment to hospitals and laboratories in states and regions in greatest need of supplies and to Ethnic Health Organizations operating health facilities that are likely to receive patients. Dr Nilesh Buddh, Deputy Head, World Health Organization (WHO), joined the briefing.
The United States works in close partnership with the government and people of Myanmar on a range of programs to improve health outcomes in Myanmar. These include programs to address maternal and child health and efforts to address and prevent infectious diseases.