DEPUTY SECRETARY BIEGUN: Thank you, Professor Alam. Thank you, Ambassador Miller. Minister Palak, Minister Maleque, thank you very much for being here today.
As Bangladesh prepares for its 50th anniversary of independence next year, the United States and Bangladesh can look back proudly on five decades of cooperation and partnership in public health. Together with the Bangladeshi Government, civil society, and the medical community, the United States has made long-term investments in Bangladesh’s public health system.
The United States has provided technical support and funding to major public health institutions and laboratories in Bangladesh to strengthen the country’s laboratory capacity, enhance surveillance, expand emergency management systems, and develop a stronger public health system.
In the 20 years that we have worked together, the United States has provided over $1 billion to support this effort. This response has created a wide range of public health preventative steps, including improvements in maternal and children – child health; nutrition interventions for vulnerable populations; fighting against tuberculosis; strengthening health financing and regulatory capacity for pharmaceutical production.
The long-term public health partnership between our two countries has become even more critical in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, the United States has provided over $56 million in total U.S. government assistance to support Bangladesh’s COVID-19 response efforts. We have worked with the Ministry of Health to expand COVID testing, train healthcare workers in infection prevention, and engage local communities in COVID prevention and response. Of course, our cooperation in responding to the pandemic goes beyond the health sector. We are also partnering on the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 on rural populations in Bangladesh.
And when I talk about our relations as it pertains to public health, I must use the word “partnership” because it is two-way. Earlier this summer, Bangladeshi industry stepped up to provide the United States with much-needed personal protection equipment, something for which the American people are deeply grateful to the people of Bangladesh. A partnership between Beximco and Hanes provided 6.5 million units of PPE to the United States and it helped Bangladesh become a small part of the world-class, large-scale PPE manufacturing nations, the small number of nations capable of doing so.
Together, we’re pushing the partnership forward for the good of the people of both of our great nations. And so today, I brought along yet another contribution, symbolic, which I’d like to quickly introduce. On this table here to my direct right is a device that’s very important for calibrating and improving the performance of health equipment in treating victims of COVID-19 as well as other diseases. This small device, known as gas analyzer, is required to evaluate the effectiveness of ventilators and also can also be used to check and recheck all of Bangladesh’s existing ventilator equipment to ensure its proper calibration. These tools will allow Bangladesh to provide lifesaving medical supplies not only to its own people but to others throughout the region and the world, and to treat not only COVID-19 but other diseases which may afflict your population.
I’m also pleased to announce that the United States is donating 100 ventilators to Bangladesh, and I understand the first shipment will arrive tomorrow evening at the airport, where it will be met by our U.S. ambassador for delivery. These ventilators and analyzers are a gift to the people of Bangladesh from the people of the United States and yet another symbol of the strong partnership between our two countries.
It is my honor to call Bangladesh a partner and a friend in our combined efforts to combat this global scourge of pandemic – pandemic scourge of COVID-19. Thank you very much to the Government of Bangladesh for your partnership, and we look forward to continuing this work in the months and years ahead. Thank you.