The United States is a primary partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) when it comes to investing in research, fighting diseases and training health professionals in member countries.

And the relationship is expanding with a new U.S.-ASEAN Health Futures initiative that Secretary Michael R. Pompeo announced during the April 22 virtual meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers on COVID-19.

The new initiative will showcase how $35.3 million in U.S. emergency aid is helping ASEAN respond to COVID-19 and highlight long-term U.S. investments to improve public health in the region.

Masked and gowned person checking person in hospital bed (© Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)
A hospital worker in Bangkok attends to a COVID-19 patient on April 22. U.S. funding and programs in ASEAN are used to prevent and control the pandemic. (© Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

The United States has provided $3.5 billion in public health assistance to ASEAN member states over the last 20 years and is the largest health donor in the region.

“We commit to continue our collaboration with ASEAN to beat this pandemic and get back to the business of building a bright future for the region together,” the secretary said in a statement.

Here is a look at some of the ways the United States works with the ASEAN region to improve people’s health and well being.

The United States has:

  • Provided more than $35 million to ASEAN countries to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Collaborated on more than 1,000 joint health research projects in ASEAN countries over the past 10 years.
  • Helped train more than 10,000 students and professionals in ASEAN countries on how to prevent, detect and respond to the threat of infectious diseases.
  • Invested more than $30 million in joint health research with ASEAN over the past 10 years.

The United States recently launched the U.S.-ASEAN Health Futures Alumni Network to connect 2,400 ASEAN medical and public health alumni of U.S. exchange programs with U.S. experts. The network’s April 22 event with CDC health experts involved thousands of ASEAN viewers discussing COVID-19. They also shared their expertise in epidemiology, health care and infection control.

“The story of the ties between the billion people of America and ASEAN is an inspiring, positive one,” Pompeo said. “Together, we’ve made our people safer and more prosperous.”