Kathmandu, May 21: The US Agency for International Development (USAID) on Thursday announced emergency assistance to help Nepal battle its deadly COVID-19 surge. The first of three flights departed for Kathmandu from the US, carrying surgical masks, face shields, and gloves to protect thousands of health care workers in Nepal. This is the first of a series of flights to Nepal and other countries in South Asia as the region experiences this latest surge, the USAID said in a press release.
The Thursday’s announcement builds on USAID’s efforts to help Nepal battle rising COVID-19 cases and contain transmission. In the past three weeks, USAID has provided more than $15 million to help the Government of Nepal scale up COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, treatment, and infection prevention. USAID is also helping procure oxygen related supplies and repair oxygen-generating systems throughout the country. This recent assistance, in addition to support over the past 15 months, brings USAID’s total assistance to Nepal for COVID-19 to more than $50 million. USAID’s historical investment, over the last 20 years, totals $600 million to improve the quality of health services in Nepal.
Since the pandemic began, USAID support to fight COVID-19 has benefitted more than 60 percent of Nepal’s population. USAID has helped expand Nepal’s COVID-19 testing lab network from a single lab to 87 labs to ensure nationwide coverage. Over the past six months alone, USAID has provided Nepal with COVID-19 testing equipment, oxygen cylinders, pulse oximeters, PPE for health care workers, disinfection supplies, thermometers, arterial blood gas machines, and other life-saving medical equipment. In November 2020, USAID donated 100 ventilators to 51 hospitals throughout Nepal and the National Ambulance Service to aid critically-ill COVID-19 patients.