$3.4 billion approved for medical supplies, reagents for COVID -19 hospital

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Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony

A supplementary provision was on Friday approved in the National Assembly for $3,352,229,664 for the ‘provision of medical supplies for COVID 19- Hospital Consumables and reagents’.

Minister of Health Dr. Frank Anthony, while answering questions from Opposition Member of Parliament Dr. Karen Cummings, explained out of that amount, $1.5 billion will be used for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), while $300 million will be used to provide medical gas for patients who require oxygen.

“As you know, because of the influx of inpatients, we need to have oxygen being available at the Ocean View hospital and so we’ve made an allocation of $300 million for medical gas. We are also asking here for $1.3 billion in consumables, these are laboratory reagents and consumables to do PCR tests at the national reference lab and we have also requested here $73 million for other reagents for the national lab,” Dr. Anthony said.

Meanwhile, $30,998,300 was also approved for cleaning services for the Infectious Diseases Hospital at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown. Another $150,506,426 was also approved to cater for medical treatment for approved applicants.

The health minister added, “So that we could continue to provide assistance to those who need this type of assistance. The pathologies range from cardiac pathologies, we have persons who are also seeking dialysis, some people who need overseas treatment, some people who need special treatment for cancer, so it’s a range of disease conditions that we are assisting people with here.”

The health minister noted that in 2019, the ministry provided assistance to 684 patients and in 2021, it is hoping to assist 1,119 patients- almost double the previous number.

The minister explained that the services being provided for dialysis are mixed, with patients of the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC) being able to access dialysis, while patients of the Infection Disease Hospital are also provided for.

Another category of patients that receive dialysis treatment are those diagnosed for the first time with end-stage renal disease. They can visit the ministry and get a one-off package that could be used at any of the dialysis providers and also use the money to get treatment.

There is also a public-private partnership in Linden, Region 10 with the ministry and the 5G Dialysis Centre where the ministry provides the facilities and medical personnel, while the centre provides the equipment and service.

Minister Anthony noted too that there is a similar collaboration with the ministry and the Doobay Medical Centre at New Amsterdam, Berbice.

The Health Ministry is also looking at other such collaborations to extend and decentralise the dialysis services. Moreover, a sum of $110,271,304 was also approved for the ‘provision of additional inflows under the Global Fund Grant operations for medical equipment, under the HIV/TB/Malaria programme’.

“We have been able to work with the global fund to repurpose some of the allocations they give us for TB, HIV, and malaria. Because of the Covid pandemic, they had allowed us to procure equipment that we could use for Covid 19 patients. We have since gotten an agreement with them and we went off the ‘wambo’ platform to procure 17 ventilators and these will be distributed to several regions in the country,” Dr. Anthony explained.

The sum of $103,271,304 was also approved under drugs and medical supplies. “About $40.8 million will be spent on ophthalmology supplies…a lot of this money is going to buy lenses so that when we do cataracts (surgeries), we will be able to implant the lens for different patients,” said Dr. Anthony.

Of this sum, $54 million will be used to provide medical gas to the regional hospitals while $8.7 million will be used to improve neonatal services at the regional hospitals.

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