Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has provided more than $18 million in emergency health and humanitarian assistance to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.
The examples range from providing technical experts to Myanmar, to sharing best practices with Cambodia, to preparing laboratory systems for Indonesia.
The United States “is invested in the sovereignty, in the resilience, and prosperity of every Southeast Asian nation,” Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo pledged in August 2019 at the 34th ASEAN Summits and Related Meetings.
In the face of a global pandemic, the U.S. government has made good on that commitment.
This emergency support is in addition to the nearly $3.5 billion in public health assistance the United States has provided to ASEAN member states over the last 20 years.
ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Pompeo announced March 26 that the United States is making $274 million available globally to fight COVID-19. “Much of that will head to the Indo-Pacific region,” Pompeo said on a call with regional media outlets on April 1.
The secretary announced April 8 another $225 million in health, humanitarian and economic assistance in the global COVID-19 response.
Along with aid, the United States is working with ASEAN to transparently share information about COVID-19 so that countries have the most up-to-date information to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
This money and information will help “countries push back technically, to maintain the ability to track the disease, [and support] all of the things that we have now all learned collectively” about fighting the virus, Pompeo said.
As part of this process, the United States held a videoconference with the Vietnam-led ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies on March 31. Vietnam and the United States issued a co-chairs’ statement reaffirming U.S.-ASEAN collaboration in the fight against COVID-19.
Here is a sampling of just some of the ways the $18 million and other U.S. programs are being used to support different ASEAN countries so far:
- Preparing laboratories for testing in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
- Preventing and controlling COVID-19 infections in the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
- Acquiring equipment in Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.
- Implementing emergency communications plans in the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
- Finding COVID-19 cases in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
- Training in countering emerging influenza threats in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.
The United States is also assisting countries in controlling COVID-19 by working with the World Health Organization (WHO). Last year, the United States contributed more than $400 million to the WHO. That is nearly 10 times the amount that China has given, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said March 31.
“Whenever you see high quality, effective COVID-19 aid being delivered around the world by UN humanitarian and relief agencies, what you are seeing is the generosity of the American people and those who share our humanitarian values,” Pompeo has said.
“We believe in effective multilateralism that is focused on helping those in need, not scoring political points. This is what true global leadership looks like.”