The White House Plans to Block PPE Access in the Poorest Countries. Will You Fight Back?

April 24, 2020 |

UPDATE, Wednesday, April 29: The Trump administration is reportedly requiring prior approval before U.S. international aid can be used to buy medical masks and gloves. This policy will be deadly for front-line healthcare workers and could disrupt not only the COVID-19 response, but also other critical health interventions. Read more below, and join us in taking action against this deadly policy.

COVID-19 is rapidly depleting supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) that healthcare workers need to stay safe. Make no mistake, this is a matter of life and death for people on the front lines of the COVID-19 response around the world. At the same time nurses in the U.S. are protesting outside the White House for PPE, nurses in Kenya are staging go slow actions because of extreme PPE shortages in their hospitals. 

Actions the Trump administration is taking will only make things worse. On top of their unethical hoarding of medical equipment and an outrageous funding cut to the WHO that will hinder the global COVID-19 response, the White House is considering deadly restrictions that would block impoverished countries from spending U.S. aid to procure lifesaving PPE. 

No healthcare worker should be on the front line without the lifesaving equipment they require. That’s why we’re coming together to demand the Trump administration stop blocking access to PPE in low- and middle-income countries. 

Health GAP was founded 20 years ago because people with HIV in poor countries were being excluded from access to affordable antiretroviral treatment. Activism was needed to remedy those deadly inequities. We believe HIV medicines must be available for allbecause where you live should not determine whether you live or die in a pandemic. The Trump administration’s despicable policy moves in response to COVID-19 show that our work is far from over. The poorest countries, with the most neglected health systems, must not be excluded yet again from access to PPE, medicines, and other lifesaving scientific advances. 

Join us in taking action today: 

  • Send U.S. State Department and Secretary Mike Pompeo an email regarding your feelings about their proposed policy (see below). 
  • Tweet at U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about your disapproval of the policy, and inviting others to take action with you. Make sure to use #PPEforAll if you write your own tweets, or use one of these: 

Email Pompeo here, with this letter: 

Dear Secretary Pompeo,

COVID-19 is rapidly depleting supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) that healthcare workers need to stay safe. The Trump administration’s consideration of new rules that would block impoverished countries from using U.S. humanitarian aid to buy protective medical equipment would only make things worse, undermining the global response to this public health crisis, weakening our alliances, and extending the length of the pandemic while needlessly risking the lives of millions of people around the world.

We demand the administration immediately cease all actions that would block poor countries from spending U.S. aid to procure lifesaving PPE. This is a matter of life and death for healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. 

While shortages of protective equipment have recently become a significant issue in high-income countries, the picture is even bleaker in low- and middle-income countries. Years of failure to scale-up the U.S. investment in global health has meant healthcare workers in poor countries were already facing resource scarcity before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the lack of proper masks, gowns, gloves, and eye protection is imperiling their ability to fight the coronavirus and is putting their lives at extreme risk. 

COVID-19 will continue to be a global crisis if we accept scarcity as a predetermined condition. To effectively fight COVID-19 in low-income countries, the international community needs to step up now to protect frontline health workers. We demand the administration abandon any plans to block access to lifesaving PPE by limiting the use of U.S. aid. No healthcare worker should be on the front lines without the lifesaving equipment they require. 


Read more about this policy and PPE access in low and middle income countries here: 

Stay involved in our work fighting for global health justice by signing up here. 


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