Restrictions on the use of U.S. funds hamper global efforts to fight COVID-19

Written by Mommy Matters Health Contributor: Mathilde Hainaut

An NPR article published on May 13th, 2020 highlights how the U.S. dictates how funds given to international and local aid groups abroad can be used. 

Here are the key points:

  • According to the State Department, the U.S. has committed 900$ million to global health, humanitarian and economic programs in 120 countries to fight the COVID-19 pandemic abroad. 
  • However, this aid comes with a restriction: recipients can’t use those funds to buy personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, including masks and gloves, without obtaining prior approval from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). 
  • This restriction has been criticized by many global aid groups that rely on these U.S. funds to do their work in countries struggling with the pandemic, but themselves require adequate protection to do so. 
  • A USAID spokesperson explained that this measure was put in place in order to ensure sufficient PPE for the U.S. Beginning of April, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo explained that the U.S. would be focusing on keeping critical medical items in the United States “until demand is met here”. 
  • Unfortunately, after aid recipients were informed of this restriction, hundreds of groups filled out a request to purchase PPE, but none have heard back so far, leading to frustration by the delay in response from USAID. 
  • A Save the Children senior director expressed his concern, and urged the U.S. government to allow the organization to procure PPE to reach vulnerable children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • An officer for the global health group Partners in Health expressed similar frustrations, rightfully stating “We are not safe until we are all safe”, highlighting the importance of fighting COVID-19 as one, global community. 

Read the full NPR article here.

Image credits: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cdcglobal/36526123486, Patrick Adams

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