Global Health Security: Our Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, yet Congress seems to have already put it in the rearview mirror. It is true that lawmakers took important steps over the past year to address the economic and health impacts of the virus here in the U.S. and abroad. But as cases and deaths continue to mount, it’s time to do much more. Right now, there’s a comprehensive piece of legislation wending its way through Congress that we believe is America’s best shot at ending this pandemic and preventing future ones. 

Dr. Reuben Kiggundu, Country Project Director for the USAID Medicines, Technologies, and Pharmaceutical Services (MTaPS) Program in Uganda.

Uganda has long been considered as a hotspot for emerging and re-emerging infectious disease epidemics, including Ebola, Marburg virus disease, plague, Rift Valley fever, yellow fever, and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever.Yet, to combat such outbreaks, Uganda has been at the forefront of African countries developing national action plans for health security and addressing capacity gaps in fighting infectious disease outbreaks, antimicrobial resistance, and other global health security threats. For the past five years, MSH’s Dr.

{Photo credit Rejoice Phiri/MSH}Photo credit Rejoice Phiri/MSH

As Malawi endures a new wave of COVID-19, the MSH-led USAID Organized Network of Services for Everyone’s (ONSE) Health Activity continues to provide comprehensive support for the government’s response plan, working with district health teams and communities to mitigate the significant threat to Malawi’s vulnerable health system.ONSE’s strong district footprint and engagement with the Ministry of Health and Population and other health sector partners enables a coordinated, locally led response in 16 districts, where more than half the population of Malawi lives.

{Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH}Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH

"At first I wasn't comfortable getting the vaccine because of what people were saying on social media and in my community. But I saw with my own eyes that those who haven't been vaccinated are the ones getting seriously sick and dying." - Peter Gwazanga, 34, received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi.In early August, Malawi received more than 300,000 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine through the global COVAX initiative. The new shipment comes as the country struggles with a rise in COVID-19 cases and weeks after the government announced it will add several vaccines to its efforts to defeat the virus. Within two weeks, by August 12, the government reported that the Ministry of Health had administered 60,020 of those doses across the country’s 28 districts.

{Photo Credit: Warren Zelman}Photo Credit: Warren Zelman

“In mid-July, a G-20 panel called for $75 billion in financing over the next 5 years to develop flexible, responsive health systems that provide early detection of and faster response to disease outbreaks. While these capabilities are critical in responding to outbreaks, they will ultimately fail to prevent another pandemic,” writes MSH’s Senior External Affairs Officer, Ashley Arabasadi, in an opinion article for Global Health NOW. “This is because we’ve been viewing global health security through the narrow lens of human health.

{Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH} Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH

On April 2, 2020, Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika confirmed the country's first cases of COVID-19.

 {Photo credit: Raian Amzad/MSH}A client picks up a prescription at a private-sector drug shop in Dhaka, Bangladesh.Photo credit: Raian Amzad/MSH

In Bangladesh, private neighborhood drug sellers are the first point of care for 70% of the population. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the country went into lockdown, the people of Bangladesh depended even more on the safe delivery of products and services from local accredited drug sellers. Despite all odds, they kept their shops open safely.The Better Health Bangladesh project (BHB), funded by the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office, has been supporting Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Drug Administration since 2018 to accredit these private-sector drug sellers in 32 districts. MSH, which leads the project, began supporting private drug seller accreditation in Tanzania in 2003. The model has since been adopted in a number of countries in Africa and Asia. The medicine vendors receive assessments and training in pharmaceutical practices, such as accurate dispensing, counselling, and other pharmaceutical services. In the first phase of the project, through December 2020, BHB accredited 2,193 retail medicine shops against a target 2,500 (88%).

 {Photo credit: MSH staff}Internal displaced people being screened for TB, COVID-19, and HIV in 1 of the 10 centers for internally displaced people in Mekelle, Tigray.Photo credit: MSH staff

The major conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region is affecting the functionality of the region’s health system, impacting everything from human resources to infrastructure. TB services are no exception. TB client follow-up has been disrupted, and many facilities have been damaged, including laboratory diagnostic equipment like microscopes and GeneXpert machines. The capacity to ensure service continuity and collect monitoring and evaluation data has been compromised.

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

The USAID MTaPS Program, led by MSH, is on the frontlines supporting USAID’s efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus in high-risk countries. The program’s mandate includes advancing the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and is, therefore, well equipped to respond to global public health emergencies such as the current outbreak.  MTaPS has formed a COVID-19 response team to assist countries in developing a rapid response action plan to manage the outbreak.

{Photo credit: Christina Mchau}Photo credit: Christina Mchau

Preventing and controlling the spread of infectious diseases is key to protecting the health of both patients and health care workers (HCWs). This is an urgent need in Tanzania, and not only because of the threat of COVID-19, but also to make the country vigilant about stopping the spread of HIV, tuberculosis, and antimicrobial-resistant infections. From a 2011 WHO meta-analysis, 15 in 100 people who receive health care services in Tanzania will acquire an infection while doing so.