The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is seeking applications from qualified U.S. or Non-U.S. non-profit or for-profit Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and other qualified non-USG organizations for funding of an activity entitled “Public Health System Recovery and Resilience Activity.”
The primary goal of Public Health System Recovery and Resilience Activity is to strengthen the Government of Ukraine’s capacity to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats, sustain critical public health services during a crisis, and protect the health of all Ukrainians including vulnerable and marginalized population groups.
In addition, with anticipated resources from USAID’s Victims of Torture Fund, this activity will include a specific focus on expanding access to mental health services among veterans and conflict-affected populations, while building state capacity to sustain and extend such services to groups experiencing increased mental health needs related to the COVID pandemic.
Millions of people in Ukraine have experienced misery and suffering because of COVID-19 pandemic, which overwhelmed health, education, and economic systems, and has threatened to reverse a range of human development gains the country has experienced since gaining independence in 1991. Aside from the direct health impacts of COVID, the pandemic had negative impacts on the broader health system, and exposed gaps in the resilience of essential health services during a crisis. Disruptions in the provision of essential clinical and public health services particularly impacted vulnerable groups such as the elderly, women, conflict-affected populations, and people with other health vulnerabilities such as TB and HIV.
The pandemic exacerbated existing vulnerabilities, and exposed new ones among groups such as healthcare workers, home caregivers, and patients who were unable to access healthcare for other health conditions.
Coverage of routine vaccination has been historically low in Ukraine, and COVID disrupted recent gains by leading to the closure of vaccination points, reducing the availability of healthcare workers to deliver vaccines, and reducing demand for services while fueling misinformation about vaccines among the population.
In mid-2020 during periods of lockdown, the country experienced temporary but dramatic declines in immunization coverage rates, elevating the risk of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. The WHO reported that in April-May 2020 the vaccination rate for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) decreased by 20% in selected oblasts of Ukraine as compared with the same period in 2019. UNICEF also reported that vaccination practice among caregivers decreased by 11% as demonstrated by a Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) survey conducted in October 2020. Such disruptions are concerning with regard to the risk of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, especially in light of historically low vaccination coverage in Ukraine that has led to several outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases in recent years (polio in 2016-2016 and measles in 2017-2018).
Weaknesses in national immunization systems are also posing barriers for the rapid rollout of COVID-19 vaccination. Similarly dramatic declines in TB case detection have been observed in Ukraine in the wake of the COVID pandemic, arising from disruptions to laboratory services as well as case finding efforts, redirection of human resources who were redirected to respond to COVID, and reduced care-seeking behaviors among the population.
USAID’s PHS R&R activity will focus on strengthening the Government of Ukraine’s capacity to address
the most acute impacts of COVID-19 on the public health system, including mitigating secondary impacts
on critical non-COVID health services, and strengthening the resilience of the public health system to
better prepare for and respond to communicable disease threats while protecting access to both clinical and
promotive health system functions and services.
USAID/Ukraine plans to provide up to $45 million, subject to the availability of funds, over a five-year period to support this activity.
Additional details are available at Grants.gov: 72012121RFA00004. Applications are currently due on 2 November 2021.