The ASHA program began in 1947 and was incorporated into USAID by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Through foreign operations appropriations legislation, Congress has funded the ASHA program as part of the overall Development Assistance (DA) appropriation to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). ASHA provides assistance to overseas schools, libraries, and hospital centers to highlight American ideas and practices, to provide concrete illustrations of the generosity of the American people, to further U.S. Government public diplomacy, and to catalyze collaboration between U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries. The mission of the ASHA program is distinct from other USAID programs because of its focus on public diplomacy. ASHA works to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries by strengthening local capacity and leadership.
Direct awards are made to U.S. Organizations (USOs) who have partnered with overseas institutions that are impacting local, regional, or global health and education systems. The USO must be a tax-exempt nonprofit organization, headquartered in the United States, and partnered with an overseas institution for which assistance is sought. Awards are also given to Overseas Institutions (OSIs), which must be universities, secondary schools, libraries, or medical centers that conduct education research outside of the United States. The OSIs must also provide the benefits of American ideas and practices, foster favorable relations with the United States, and be free from government control.
ASHA has been providing support to institutions in the Middle East since 1957. Institutions based in Israel have received the most program funding in the Middle East region. In its 60-year anniversary report (1957-2017), a number of Israeli institutions were listed as receiving ASHA funding including:
- Children’s Medical Center-Israel
- Israel Arts and Science Academy
- Medical Development for Israel, Inc.
In addition, the St. John Eye Hospital Group offers high-quality eye care to all patients regardless of their background or ability to pay. The Group also reaches isolated communities through its “Mobile Outreach Programs,” helping them treat over 100,000 patients in total. The Priory in the USA received $600,000 from ASHA to help St. John Eye Hospital Group procure quality diagnostic and surgical equipment, and medical and surgical consumables and instruments so that it may strengthen the medical and surgical capacity of its various facilities across the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.
The Hadassah Medical Center a received a grant of $1,000,000 from ASHA to purchase an Artis Q Interventional Angiography Machine to better serve poor communities, including Palestinian and ultra-Orthodox Jewish women in the Scopus area.
ASHA also gave Hadassah $1,100,000 to assist with the purchase of an MRI machine for a new Radiology Center at its Mt. Scopus campus to better serve the surrounding diverse community. The award also helped purchase equipment for the new Mother and Child Center at Mt. Scopus.
ASHA provided a $975,000 grant to allow Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem to purchase and install a new surgical system called the Da Vinci System. This system uses 3D images and robotic technology that will result in safer and more efficient medical procedures.
Shaare Zedek also received $700,000 from ASHA to acquire a Dual Source Computed Tomography (CT) scanner to be used in emergency, in-patient, and ambulatory care. Featuring high speed testing that can image the heart in one heartbeat, the CT scanner will help physicians save lives and diagnose patients in faster, safer, and more cost-effective ways.
ASHA awarded $500,000 to Nazareth Hospital to procure equipment for the Nazareth Hospital EMMS, which provides pediatric surgery services and training to doctors from Israel and from the West Bank.
ASHA awarded $900,000 to the Feinberg Graduate School of the Weizmann Institute of Science to purchase commodities for an innovative new teaching lab to monitor the network of metabolites in organisms, including plants essential to human survival. The lab will support students’ research on enhanced food security.
Sources: Jeremy Sharp, “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel,” Congressional Research Service, (November 16, 2020).
“American Schools And Hospitals Abroad,” USAID.
“American Schools And Hospitals Abroad – 60 Year Anniversary Report,” USAID.