COVID-19: Gov’t receives shipment of medical equipment and supplies
The Government has received the first shipment of some $1 billion worth of medical equipment and supplies that have been procured to bolster Jamaica’s coronavirus (COVID-19) response.
The items, which are being stored at the National Health Fund (NHF) warehouse in Kingston, include ventilators, intensive care unit (ICU) beds, stretchers, infrared thermometers, and N95 masks.
These were sourced from several countries, including the People’s Republic of China, Ireland, and the United States of America.
Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, and NHF Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Everton Anderson, visited the facility on Wednesday to view the items, distribution of which has commenced.
Dr Tufton said that based on the provisions, “we can safely say that for the next two to three months, we have [an adequate] supply in storage”.
“So I want to say to the people of Jamaica, we are prepared… to the extent that persons have to be treated in hospitals. We are, in fact, a lot more prepared now than we were a month or six weeks ago,” he said.
The Minister advised that arrangements are now being finalised for the second shipment of supplies “because we want to ensure that we do not have any shortages [or] runouts. Clearly, we have to be ready to manage cases, once those are determined”.
Dr Tufton thanked the NHF for managing the procurement process, and other stakeholders who provided support in terms of identifying the source markets and logistics management.
He said the Government is confident that Jamaica is “in a good position” to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, and noted that “clearly, the message is still prevention”.
“So, we advise persons to still take the precautions… still manage the hygiene… wash the hands… [and observe] the restrictions on movement…. All of those things are very important. But to the extent that we have persons who have to be hospitalised or treated, we are also preparing to make sure that that is the case,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the NHF CEO told JIS News that the overall complement of items ordered includes 32 ventilators, 30 ICU beds, 1,500 infrared thermometers, 80 monitors, and 35 suction machines.
He said that the initial shipment is “a good start as we further prepare to manage the COVID-19 situation”.
Mr Anderson said that the supplies will be distributed to designated hospitals and health centres via the Health Ministry’s four Regional Health Authorities.
Among those that will benefit are St. Ann’s Bay Hospital, Cornwall Regional Hospital, Savanna-la-Mar Hospital, and Victoria Jubilee Hospital.
Mr Anderson said that the remaining supplies are slated to arrive on a weekly basis, through to next month.
“At the end of May, we would have received all the equipment. So while we have sufficient items now… enough to last us for the next two to three months… by the end of May when we receive all of the remaining items, we will be very comfortable in terms of overall preparations to deal with COVID-19,” he noted.
Mr Anderson said the NHF, and by extension, the Government, “will continue to monitor the situation globally, so that we can be placing orders from countries where we actually will get prompt delivery, where needed”.