Against the backdrop of an unprecedented global pandemic, ICAP mobilized rapid, innovative, and courageous responses to support public health in communities worldwide
In This Together
ICAP’s founder and global director, Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA, reflects on one of the most challenging years in the history of public health and signals how ICAP’s teams around the world worked to strengthen health systems, protect communities, and defend hard-won public health gains.
Letter from the Director
The year 2020 was one we won’t soon forget. Never before has the world experienced the spread of a new virus to all corners of the world, killing tens of thousands of people each month, overwhelming health systems, decimating the global economy and impacting the social fabric of communities. In the year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and more than 2.5 million people have died, and even with a light at the end of the tunnel in sight, the toll continues to rise.
Without question, we have been living through a global tragedy. Yet we need to acknowledge the remarkable mobilization and caring by so many, the rapid pace of scientific discoveries, and the resilience manifested by health systems around the world.
With the identification of COVID-19 as a global health threat, we realized that we had to quickly pivot to respond to the rapidly worsening crisis. After nearly two decades building longstanding relationships in more than 30 countries, we were compelled to reach out to partner with the countries where we work and support efforts to mitigate the threats of this pandemic.
Working in partnership, we responded rapidly to provide training to frontline health workers leveraging remote training platforms, to support the diagnosis and management of COVID-19, to rapidly communicate with the public about how to stay safe, to build SARS-C0V-2 diagnostic capacity, to support the conduct of surveys to define the status of the pandemic, to fortify under-resourced health systems, to strengthen surveillance systems and to jump-start research for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
At the same time, we feared that the COVID-19 pandemic would threaten the hard-won health gains already achieved. Working diligently with partners, we mobilized efforts to rapidly adopt differentiated service delivery models to ensure that recipients of care could continue to receive services.
This annual report highlights some of the work accomplished in 2020, a year like no other. I want to express my pride in the dedication and expertise of ICAP’s global teams and to commend the tireless work of our in-county partners, governmental, non-governmental organizations and civil society groups. And I applaud the government agencies and funders who fully and rapidly appreciated the urgent needs for strategic investment to rapidly scale-up a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, based on science, safety, and health equity.
The challenges of January 2020, remain with us today. We are keenly aware that the pandemic is far from over. Our knowledge of the virus and the disease it causes has exponentially grown. New vaccines offer hope, but they need to reach all those who need them. Much remains to be done. With our partners and colleagues we will continue to work at full pitch and will not rest in our efforts to stem the tide of this pandemic and to support the communities in its path. Above all, we take with us the lessons from this extraordinary moment in history—that viruses know no borders and that, where global health is concerned, we are all in this together.
Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA
Director, ICAP at Columbia University
Director, Columbia World Projects
University Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine
Mathilde Krim-amfAR Chair of Global Health
By the Numbers
ICAP’s Global Impact in 2020*
* October 2019 – September 2020
STORIES FROM 2020
Take a deeper dive in into ICAP’s extensive and growing portfolio of innovative public health projects around the world.
Pivoting to Protect Vulnerable Populations
As news of the discovery of a new coronavirus broke, the outbreak in China was rapidly followed by devastating impact in Italy, France and other countries in Europe.
Training Frontline Health Care Workers
As the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Sierra Leone, ICAP’s experience in health care worker training, mentoring and supportive supervision proved to be a critical asset.
Researching Biomedical Responses to COVID-19
Recognizing the urgency of developing prevention and treatment responses to COVID-19, ICAP rapidly mobilized efforts at its two longstanding research sites in New York City, the Bronx Prevention Center and Harlem Prevention Center.
Saving Lives with Music
Building on the experience of developing prior community mobilization efforts for the HIV response, ICAP appreciated the potential power of music to reach people far and wide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sustaining Methadone Treatment During Lockdown
While the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 dominated the attention of global public health, the challenge of treating drug addiction and HIV – often co-occurring – was only complicated by fear of COVID-19 and the necessary restrictions imposed by governments to prevent transmission.
Harnessing Tech to Advance HIV Recency Testing
As hope for the end of the HIV pandemic is coming into sight in many countries, public health systems in high-burden countries now have a laser focus on reaching the sectors of the population that are key to breaking the transmission chain.
Surveying the HIV Epidemic Undaunted
Since 2014, the Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (PHIA) Project has been guiding the global HIV response by conducting national representative surveys that chart the state of the HIV epidemic across 15 countries.
Responding to Malaria in Remote Regions
More than two-thirds of Ethiopia’s population lives in malaria high-risk areas and more than 1.5 million cases are reported annually.
Confronting the Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance
While the rapid spread of COVID-19 continues to dominate headlines around the world, another health crisis looms large: the global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
Connecting Key Populations to Care
For people who suffer from stigma and fear, including sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and victims of gender-based violence, overcoming barriers to accessing health care is an enormous challenge.
Where We Work
View ICAP’s range of work by country or technical area.
Partnerships for a Healthier World
ICAP’s Funders in 2020
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
- The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Columbia University
- World Health Organization
- Gilead Sciences
- Janssen Pharmaceuticals
- Fleming Fund
- Elton John AIDS Foundation
- Zhao Public Health Fund
- Resolve to Save Lives
- Becton Dickinson
- Contour Global
- CDC Foundation
- Orange Foundation
- Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation
- Global Fund
- Family Health International (FHI)
- Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
- New York Community Trust
- Samuels Foundation