Save the Children Receives Global Award from USAID-OFDA for Major Disease Outbreak Readiness

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) awarded a three-year, $8 million award to Save the Children to lead a global consortium to strengthen capacity for response to major infectious disease outbreaks or pandemics. The consortium, known as READY, brings together leadership from Save the Children, the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Center for Humanitarian Health, the JHU Center for Communication Programs, UK-Med, MERCY Malaysia, and EcoHealth Alliance to fill critical gaps in outbreak response capacity and capability by leveraging expertise and best practices across these operational, academic, clinical, and communications organizations.

“Infectious disease emergencies have disastrous impacts on families, societies, systems, and economies,” says Jesse Hartness, Save the Children’s Senior Director for Emergency Health and Nutrition. “The impact of the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa stretched well beyond the estimated 11,310 lives lost or the 28,616 known to have contracted the disease: the loss of health workers and the systems’ inability to cope with the epidemic severely restricted access to routine and life-saving health services; millions of children lost months of schooling–many never returned; thousands of children lost parents, siblings, and family members; and disruptions to markets and livelihoods had dire consequences for the poorest communities.”

“Major outbreaks in recent years, including influenza, Zika, the plague in Madagascar, Diphtheria in Bangladesh and Yemen, and Yellow Fever in DRC and Angola have demonstrated that governments, donors, and aid agencies are severely challenged in their response capacity and coordination, highlighting major gaps in the global humanitarian community’s ability to respond to far-reaching disease epidemics.”

By diversifying NGO capacity in coordination with other global outbreak initiatives, READY will strive to improve the humanitarian community’s response to infectious disease outbreaks that become international humanitarian emergencies, and even prevent many from ever becoming global. Operational consortium members will be supported to build and retain standing capacity to more quickly and effectively respond to large-scale disease outbreaks. The program will also design and roll-out a multi-sectoral response approach that seeks to address the holistic needs of outbreak-affected communities – with community engagement and communications at the heart of the program design.

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