Mon | Oct 26, 2020

Big spend for COVID

Published:Friday | September 25, 2020 | 12:16 AM
Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton addresses an audience at the field hospital handover ceremony at National Chest Hospital on Thursday.
Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton addresses an audience at the field hospital handover ceremony at National Chest Hospital on Thursday.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has already spent $4 billion of the $5.6 billion it was allocated to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, which has so far claimed 77 lives and infected 5,588 Jamaicans.

Permanent Secretary Dunstan Bryan said the $4 billion was spent between April and September. Forty per cent of that amount was expended in June and July.

Bryan said that the increased spend in those two months came as a result of honouring commitments made in March and April.

“So our commitments to equipment, our commitment to PPEs, our commitment to drugs, our commitment to the buildout of infrastructure ...., we were able to pay those bills to the tune of $4 billion,” he said during Thursday night’s virtual COVID-19 press briefing.

The bulk of the funds, approximately $1 billion, was spent on drugs and personal protective equipment for health professionals.

Accommodation for Jamaicans who returned to the island under the controlled re-entry programme also cost the Government a pretty penny. That bill was $709 million.

Approximately $728 million was spent to support the four regional health authorities. Money was allocated for contact tracing, financing activities at the health centres and hospitals, employing 121 doctors who were out of a job, and providing salaries for community health aides.

There is a balance of $1.5 billion to fight the pandemic, which spiked in the last month.

“Of that $1.5 billion, approximately $370 million are commitments that are to come in for payment,” the permanent secretary said.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com