The United States Congress has “generously put forward a tremendous supplemental appropriation…to deal with COVID…in the Middle East region,” said Michael Harvey, USAID Assistant Administrator for the Middle East in a recent interview.
Between USAID and the State Department, the United States has contributed over 205 million dollars to the COVD-19 response in the Middle East -- part of the more than $1.5 billion the U.S. has committed to date to fight the pandemic world-wide. These funds are specifically aimed to help governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations improve public health education, protect healthcare facilities; and increase laboratory, disease-surveillance, and rapid-response capacity.
Assistant Administrator Harvey said that in the Middle East, the funds to fight COVID-19 have reached “pretty much every country across the region.”
Mr. Harvey emphasized that while countries in the region are under tremendous stress because of conflicts in Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Syria,“their own health systems actually performed very, very well” in response to the pandemic:
“And we are extremely proud of that because we have invested so heavily in building the capacity of those health care systems and they have done well. The political leadership also managed it with a seriousness that we have seen in few other regions. The economic cost of the shutdown is now what we are really worrying about. How do we get the recovery to rapidly get economic growth back up?”
Assistant Administrator Harvey noted that one country in the Middle East refused the U.S. offer to help when the novel corona virus started its deadly spread:
“Iran declined…It is tragic and heartbreaking how hard the Iranian people were hit by COVID…This is a country with a lot of multigenerational households. And what we’re learning around the world is that multigenerational households are particularly hard hit. So we will continue to watch, and we will continue to stand ready to help.”
The U.S. Government has allocated $20.5 billion to benefit the global COVID-19 response and is determined to remain a leader in the worldwide effort against the disease.
“The United States,” said Assistant Administrator Harvey, “has always helped when people are in need.”