Dhaka, October 18, 2020 – Today, United States Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller, along with acting Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Bangladesh, John Allelo, inaugurated an e-mentoring initiative for Bangladeshi doctors to enhance their capacity to manage COVID-19 cases through learning and sharing with clinical experts in Bangladesh and in the United States.
Due to the unprecedented contagiousness of the virus, the COVID-19 pandemic situation has halted almost all avenues of ongoing in-person training of healthcare providers at COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 hospital settings. Continued capacity building of doctors is essential to ensure proper case management and to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.
USAID, through its MaMoni Maternal and Newborn Care Strengthening Project, has partnered with the University of New Mexico’s Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcome), a U.S.-based e-mentoring platform to deliver COVID-19 case management learning to doctors in public and private health facilities in Bangladesh. Nearly 4,000 doctors are expected to benefit from this new learning program.
Speaking at the launching event, U.S. Ambassador Miller said, “I am proud the United States is part of this innovative e-mentoring initiative to strengthen Bangladesh’s health system’s capacity to manage COVID-19 cases in health care facilities. I am confident with enhanced capacity; Bangladeshi doctors will be able to more effectively manage COVID-19 cases and contain the spread of the disease.”
Dhaka Medical College Hospital and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) have been selected as mentor institutes, and about 40 public and private hospitals have been selected as learner hospitals. The learner hospitals will present their COVID-19 patients and case findings to the national professors of medicine at mentor institutes and learn from them through knowledge sharing and coaching, which will cover nearly 1,000 doctors directly. An additional 3,000 doctors are expected to indirectly benefit by connecting to these interactive learning sessions. In a later phase, the e-mentoring initiative will include learning and sharing sessions with the University of Michigan through its Internal Medicine Residency Program and Center for Global Health Equity which will partner with Bangladesh medical universities. These sessions will also be available to all doctors in Bangladesh.
The U.S. government was one of the first donors to mobilize funds to support Bangladesh’s COVID-19 readiness and response efforts, contributing over $56.5 million from all agencies so far, including nearly $38 million from USAID alone for development and humanitarian assistance. This assistance is helping to strengthen the COVID-19 testing capacity of Bangladesh laboratories and laboratory staff; improve the care given to COVID-19 patients; reduce and control the spread of the infection; and increase public knowledge and dispel myths and misconceptions about the disease.
The U.S. government, through USAID, has provided more than $8 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh since its independence. In 2019, USAID alone provided over $200 million to improve the lives of people in Bangladesh through programs that expand food security and economic opportunity, improve health and education, promote democratic institutions and practices, protect the environment, and increase resilience to climate change.