On May 5, Javier Piedra, Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Asia, USAID, and Ramona El Hamzaoui, Deputy Mission Director for India, USAID, joined USISPF members on a webinar to discuss USAID’s COVID-19 response in India. Other colleagues from USAID were also on the webinar including Public Health Program Specialist Sangita Patel and Nahel Sanghavi, Senior Advisor for Innovation & Partnership, to share insights into efforts related to their specific expertise.
Javier Piedra began the discussion by highlighting that, since the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. government has committed more than $775 million to aid in more than 120 countries. In India, he pointed to the importance of addressing ‘second order effects’ of COVID-19, such as supply chain issues, as well as its immediate impact.
Ms. El Hamzaoui spoke on shift in USAID’s relationship with India, highlighting the agency’s current partnership-based initiatives to support not just India’s development but India’s role in the region and globally. So far, to address COVID-19 in India, USAID has provided $6 million in aid to support the Government of India’s response efforts. Interagency teams have supported initiatives ranging from helping female textile workers shift to mask production to training health care workers in contact tracing. USAID has also been assisting with initiatives to ensure that other health issues are not ignored during the COVID-19 crisis, from developing an app to support mother and infant health to facilitating the export of vital HIV/AIDS medication from India to Laos.
During a Q&A period with USISPF members moderated by USISPF Senior Advisor Vikram J. Singh, Ms. El Hamzaoui, Mr. Piedra, Ms. Patel, and Mr. Sanghavi spoke on topics ranging from India’s health care infrastructure and medical supply and pharmaceutical industries, to innovative solutions from the Indian technology sector and the CSR contributions of private-sector partners.