The US' Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has committed USD 3.6 million to assist India's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the aid will support prevention, preparedness and response activities.
The funds will also be used to support the development of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) centres of excellence that can improve the ability of hospital networks to detect COVID-19 and strengthen local health systems through enhanced surveillance and monitoring systems, a US Embassy statement said.
The CDC is the national public health institute of the United States. It is a federal agency under the US' Department of Health and Human Services.
"This initial tranche of funding will seek to further strengthen and support the Indian government's efforts to increase laboratory capacity for SARS-COV-2 testing, including molecular diagnostics and serology," the embassy said.
The CDC will work with local partners to assist in the development of a strong public health workforce to support India's capacity to respond not only to the COVID-19 pandemic but to future threats as well.
The scope of support will include planning for health emergency operations centres to further strengthen public health emergency management capacities.
The CDC India programme will provide technical assistance for the Indian government's ongoing crisis emergency and risk communication efforts.
Since early January, the CDC's India office has been collaborating with sub-national and national government institutes to support the COVID-19 response in the country, the statement said.
Collaboration efforts are focused on lab strengthening, infection prevention and control, health workforce development, emergency management, risk communication and community engagement.
The CDC has conducted trainings across India for healthcare administrators, physicians, nurses, and hospital staff on preparedness and response, infection prevention and control, laboratory operations, and field epidemiology to equip frontline response workers with the necessary skills to collect, analyze and interpret data, and contribute to evidence-based decisions.
The goal of the CDC's global health response to COVID-19 is to limit human-to-human transmission and minimize the impact of COVID-19 through partnerships with key country and non-governmental partners to mitigate vulnerabilities and gaps in preparedness, the US Embassy said.
The CDC has a long-standing relationship and technical collaboration with the Indian government's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to control HIV, TB, and malaria, eradicate polio, and prepare responses to influenza and other pandemic diseases.
"Over the past two decades, this partnership has received support at the highest levels of the two governments and has deepened mutual cooperation through the exchange of scientific knowledge, expertise, and technology, and the development of institutional and human capacities for addressing these health goals," the US Embassy said.
These previous investments to improve health security have laid the foundation for rapidly and effectively preparing for emerging threats, including the current coronavirus outbreak, it said.
For decades, the United States has been the world's largest provider of bilateral assistance in public health, the statement said.
In India, US government agencies, including the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, and other Department of Health and Human Services agencies, have provided more than USD 1.4 billion in health assistance and nearly USD 2.8 billion in total assistance over the last 20 years, it said.