Fri | Aug 7, 2020

COVID-19 spend reaping desired results, say Tufton

Published:Wednesday | July 8, 2020 | 12:24 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has defended the Government’s approximately $3.8 billion spend on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some $6 billion has been budgeted to tackle the deadly coronavirus, of which close to 600 cases have been detected locally with 10 deaths.

“I am comfortable that we have been getting value for money, as evidenced by the slowing of the disease, which has resulted in a less-than-expected number of cases and hospitalisations,” Tufton told Parliament yesterday as made his contribution to the Sectoral Debate. “In fact, Jamaica has so far kept the number of cases below the health system’s capacity to respond and that is a very positive indication ... .”

He pointed out that Jamaica has a mortality rate of 1.4 per cent, compared to the international rate of between three and four per cent.

Further, he said, up to July 6, the island had a recovery rate of 80.2 per cent, a hospitalisation rate of less than one per cent, and a reproductive rate of less than one.

“When compared to other jurisdictions, I believe we can safely say that the health system in Jamaica is working to protect the citizens of this country,” Tufton said.

The minister indicated that roughly $775 million was given to the island’s health authorities to boost the response efforts.

More than $89 million was spent on infrastructure upgrade, including equipping hospitals with an additional 63 intensive-care and high-dependency units.

The minister said that $1.7 billion was spent to procure medical equipment, such as personal protective gear and COVID-19 test kits.

A further $500 million was spent on prescription drugs, through the National Health Fund, to ensure the effective treatment of the symptoms for COVID-19 patients.

The health minister argued that the slowing of the transmission of the coronavirus locally has allowed for the building of additional capacity within the public health sector, in line with the 2005 International Health Regulations.

“In particular, successes to date can be credited to an early health-education programme, enhanced surveillance, the early institution of restrictions, the early response to perceived threats, and rapid containment exercises.

“The resultant increased public awareness and early detection of cases, in addition to our primary healthcare establishment, also enabled us to assemble and dispatch response teams to communities for case investigation and contact tracing – all of which have served us well,” the minister said.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com