USAID Mission Director Visits Sylhet Region to Observe COVID-19 Response Activities and Continuation of Essential Health Service Delivery
Mission Director Brown launched a new Tuberculosis (TB) initiative “Alliance for Combating Tuberculosis in Bangladesh” in Sylhet Division; part of the U.S. government’s commitment to end TB globally. This latest activity builds on the more than $1 billion in health assistance provided to Bangladesh over the past 20 years and nearly $38 million in COVID-19 response assistance since March.
Dhaka, October 6, 2020 – United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Derrick S. Brown visited the Sylhet region from October 4-6 to observe key USAID activities complementing the Government of Bangladesh’s COVID-19 response efforts. Mission Director Brown also launched USAID’s flagship tuberculosis (TB) activity “Alliance for Combating Tuberculosis in Bangladesh” (ACTB) in Sylhet Division as part of the U.S. government’s commitment to end TB globally.
“It’s an honor to meet dedicated doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, and other health workers, and learn how they continue to tirelessly serve people. I feel proud USAID is helping to build the capacity of health workers and improve delivery of health services,” Mission Director Brown said.
During his visit, Mr. Brown met with government officials, frontline health care providers, and program participants. At the 100-bed Narsingdi District Hospital the Mission Director met with 20 doctors and nurses who participated in USAID-supported training on infection control and case management to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. They represent a handful of the 20,000 doctors and nurses, across Bangladesh, who received COVID-19 related training made possible through funding from USAID.
In Sylhet Sadar, Mr. Brown together with Prof. (Dr.) Md. Shamiul Islam, Line Director of the National Tuberculosis Control Program (NTP), visited the Tuberculosis Screening and Treatment Center (TB STC) to observe ongoing TB services amid the coronavirus outbreak. Due to the COVID-19 situation, there has been a decrease in the reporting of TB cases across the country. USAID’s ACTB activity works closely with both formal and informal private service providers to refer suspected TB cases to the TB STC.
Mr. Brown also visited the Regional TB reference laboratory (RTRL) in Sylhet, the first and only containerized Biosafety level -3 laboratory for TB in Bangladesh planned, built, and installed with U.S. government assistance, through USAID, and transferred to the Bangladesh government in August 2018.
At the Smiling Sun Clinic in Moulvibazar, managed by the Surjer Hashi Network (SHN) through USAID’s Advancing Universal Health Coverage (AUHC) activity, Mission Director Brown observed how essential health services continue to be provided during the ongoing pandemic.
The U.S. government was one of the first donors to mobilize funds to support Bangladesh’s COVID-19 response efforts, contributing over $56.5 million so far, including nearly $38 million from USAID in development and humanitarian assistance. This assistance is helping strengthen COVID-19 testing capacity of Bangladesh laboratories; improve the care given to COVID-19 patients; control the spread of the infection; and dispel myths and misconceptions about the disease.
The U.S. government, through USAID, has provided more than $8 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh since its independence. In 2019, USAID alone provided over $200 million to improve the lives of people in Bangladesh through programs that expand food security and economic opportunity, improve health and education, promote democratic institutions and practices, protect the environment, and increase resilience to climate change.