US provides $2.4 million to its agencies in India to help in COVID-19 fight

Akhilesh Suman

File photo of US President Donald Trump

File photo of US President Donald Trump

In the middle of fighting its own war against the COVID-19 virus that has claimed over 9,600 American lives so far, the United States on Monday released $2.9 million to assist India in its fight against the Coronavirus.

US President Donald Trump made the announcement on March, 28 that was operationalised by the US Embassy in India on Monday.

Part of the fund will be operationalised through the USAID that works with various Indian government agencies in fields ranging from health to climate change. For the purpose of fighting the COVID-19 outbreak, it will be implemented by Jhpiego, a global NGO affiliated to the US-based John Hopkins University.

The rest, $500,000, will be operationalised through the World Health Organisation’s India Chapter.

U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Juster said the USAID assistance will further support India’s response to COVID-19.

He said: “COVID-19 is a global public health threat that can be addressed best by close collaboration among governments and international organizations. The U.S. Government, through USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agencies, is working closely with the Government of India and multilateral agencies to support India’s response to this global pandemic.”

As a policy, the Trump administration does not consider India as a developing country and that is why the solidarity is basically through its own agency and WHO.

“The funds will help the Government of India slow the spread of COVID-19, provide care for the affected, and support local communities with the tools needed to contain the disease,” the ambassador said.

An embassy statement said this new support builds on a foundation of more than $1.4 billion in health assistance and nearly $3 billion in total assistance provided by the United States to India in the last 20 years.

Indian officials did not comment on the development.

A senior official in the MEA told Rajya Sabha TV said, “America is a friendly country and we are cooperating on coronavirus issues in many ways. Don’t see just the money, there are many things that we are and we will share on this issue in future”.

Observers call it a good gesture from a friendly country at a time when India is in dire need of money, technology and expertise to fight the deadly virus.

“It’s more by way of solidarity. It’s not a big amount but it will be helpful,” said Meera Shankar, former Indian Ambassador to USA.

She said the Government has already directed Indian embassies the world over to accept all the support in the fight against the coronavirus. “You could see this gesture in that light,” Meera Shankar added.