Mon | Mar 8, 2021

Coronavirus funding might need boost, says PS

Published:Friday | March 27, 2020 | 12:11 AM
Dunstan Bryan, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Dunstan Bryan, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

As the novel coronavirus moves from local to community spread, it will require significant additional resources to tackle the problem, says permanent secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dunstan Bryan.

Fielding questions from members of Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee in Gordon House on Wednesday, Bryan said that the ministry had received $2.1 billion to date to deal with the COVID-19 emergency.

However, he indicated that as the COVID pandemic spreads, the ministry would require a boost in its resources to tackle the negative health impact of the virus.

Of the $2.1 billion, Bryan said that half a billion dollars would be used to purchase medical equipment such as ventilators and infection-prevention control supplies for hospitals.

The National Health Fund has received $500 million to procure additional drugs.

Bryan said that $16 million would be spent on different types of accommodation, while $3.2 million was being spent on catering services to supply meals to the residents under lockdown in communities impacted by COVID-19.

Funds to strengthen infrastructure

At the same time, $944 million has been allocated to the various regional health authorities to provide support to their operations at the local level. The sum transferred also includes $200 million to The University Hospital of the West Indies to bolster its infrastructure to respond to COVID-19.

The ministry spent $4.4 million for computer network installation to augment its services and keep the communication channels open.

Turning to infrastructure work, Bryan said that $63 million was spent to retrofit the St Joseph’s Hospital and other quarantine facilities.

He said that resources were also spent on retrofitting hospitals for the COVID-19 wards that were being established.

The ministry also acquired three vehicles for transporting health personnel at a cost of $42 million.

Bryan informed lawmakers that an additional 40 ventilators were being sourced by the ministry, which was ordered about two to three weeks ago.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com