Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Tufton under pressure to break down $1b Zika spend

Published:Friday | September 9, 2016 | 9:00 AM
Horace Dalley

Public pressure is growing for the Andrew Holness administration to give a breakdown of the more than $1 billion it says has been spent so far on the response to the Zika virus threat.

Pointing to costs related to testing and personnel, among other things, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said, addressing a Gleaner Editors' Forum on Wednesday: "It's very difficult to put a firm handle on it (cost), [but] I would hazard a guess to say we are well, well above $1 billion, and counting."

However, the Opposition People's National Party has criticised Tufton, saying health management "has been seemingly reduced to a guessing game".

"This speaks to gross incompetence in the management of the crisis as the minister has failed to clearly outline the funding for this epidemic," Opposition Spokesman on Health Horace Dalley said in a statement.

MORE SCIENTIFIC APPROACH

He said Tufton "needs to understand that the Ministry of Health must be more scientific than relying on the need to hazard a guess".

Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor of Spanish Town Ralston Wilson, the deputy chairman of the St Catherine Parish Council, said he has not seen where the money has been spent in the parish.

"I want the honourable minister of health to come to this council and tell us what is being done now to alleviate the Zika virus, which is affecting the people in the parish, and expectant mothers more than anybody else," Wilson said.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com