Health ministry spends $4 billion in COVID-19 fight, so far

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Health ministry spends $4 billion in COVID-19 fight, so far

Saturday, September 26, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica— To date, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has spent $4 billion in the fight against COVID-19.

Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dunstan Bryan, made the disclosure during the ministry's weekly virtualCOVID Conversationspress briefingon Thursday.

According to Bryan, a large portion of the funds, approximately $1 billion, went towards providing personal protective equipment (PPEs) and procuring drugs and sundries.

“We had a peak in expenditure in June and July and that's primarily because of the commitments that we had made in March and April for equipment, PPEs, drugs, and our commitment to the build-out of infrastructure,” he said.

He added that a significant amount of money was also spent towards accommodation for returning residents under the Controlled Re-entry Programme throughout April, May and June, as well as on providing support to the regional health authorities.

“Approximately $728 million has been sent to the regional health authorities to provide support to the activities on the ground (for) the work of contact tracing, the work of the health centres, the work of the hospitals and the salaries that we have to pay for the additional staff – the 122 doctors –in addition to the community health aides that we have assigned,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary said that the ministry now has a cash balance of about $1.5 billion, with approximately $370 million of that amount being “commitments that are to come in for payment.”

In the meantime, portfolio minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, said that the Government “has been responsible in its approach in terms of the spend and as a consequence, I think we have seen value in terms of the strategies that we have pursued.”

The funds expended to date are from a total of $5.5 billion, which the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service has provided since April.

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