Health Ministry Spends $2.5 Billion on COVID-19 Response Measures

Jamaica News: The Ministry of Health and Wellness has so far spent $2.5 billion, of an initial $2.8 billion allocation from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, on efforts to contain the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and to ensure the best possible health outcomes for those affected by the disease.

Among other things, the four regional health authorities, which have direct management and operational responsibility for the islands’ public hospitals and health centres, have also been provided with initial financial support of close to $750 million to boost their capacity to mount an effective response to the pandemic. The University Hospital of the West Indies has also been provided with an initial $200 million to enhance its capacity to treat patients with COVID-19.

Also included in the expenditure to date are:

  • $500 million spent on the procurement of prescription drugs through the National Health Fund to ensure the effective treatment of symptoms of persons with COVID-19;
  • $303,805,108 for the procurement of personal protective equipment that are an essential part of the personal protective equipment for frontline workers, including doctors and nurses;
  • $194,683,664 for the procurement of some 32 ventilators that are vital for persons who may become critically ill, requiring support to breathe; and
  • More than $2 million as an initial payment for the procurement of COVID-19 test kits.

Other costs covered by the $2.5 billion include the retrofitting of 5 facilities to quarantine or otherwise isolate and care for persons who are suspected or otherwise confirmed to have COVID-19, including the installation of network infrastructure in some instances, and the provision of soft furnishings, together with handwashing stations.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has also procured, to the tune of close to $43 million, five motor vehicles to enhance its capacity to respond to calls for the transportation of patients and allocated additional sums for transportation services.

The Jamaica Red Cross been provided with $20 million for the provision of aid support individuals and/or families in need at this time.

“The Ministry of Health and Wellness is currently in negotiations with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service for additional funds to provide resources for the ongoing COVID-19 response efforts over the next six months,” said Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Mr. Dunstan Bryan.

“It is to be noted that the needs across the whole of Government is significant, given the scale of the COVID-19 challenge, and so these negotiations will take us a little time to complete. The public will be advised of the results,” he added.

As a means of providing the public with information, the income and expenditure statement is being released for review.

Members of the public are reminded to remain vigilant in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. The Ministry advises:

Frequent hand washing with soap and water.
Physical distancing of six feet.
The wearing of masks when out in the public or in crowded situations, as well as for persons in home isolation or under quarantine and for their caregivers.

Importantly, persons who do not need to leave home, and in particular the elderly and/or persons with pre-existing conditions, including diabetes and hypertension, should stay home.

Further, persons who begin show flu-like symptoms should immediately contact the Ministry at 888-ONE-LOVE (633-5687) or email [email protected]


Source: JIS News

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