NovaMed donating 500,000 face masks to help protect J’can workforce
NovaMed, a Jamaica-based medical resource supplier is donating half million (500,000) medical-grade face masks valued at approximately $60 million.
The firm, which was founded by Dr David Walcott and entrepreneur Kirk-Anthony Hamilton, announced its purchase of a mask production line in China, with a first shipment expected to arrive on the island in soon.
Dr Walcott, an Oxford-trained immunologist and entrepreneur with experience appraising health sectors in over 50 countries, said that as Jamaica gets back to business, population contact severely increases the risk of contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“COVID-19 has not disappeared just because the lockdowns have been lifted. As we get back to our routines it is easy to feel like the pandemic is over, but this deadly virus remains a serious reality,” he said.
He said the NovaMed team has targeted its efforts on financially vulnerable workers who need masks to safely earn.
“Protecting our people and protecting our economy are in this instance the same exact thing. To be frank, most Jamaicans live hand to mouth; not everyone can afford a mask. The people who most desperately need to get back to work, may have to choose between purchasing a mask and keeping food on the table. This workforce is the backbone of our nation and no Jamaican should have to decide between disease and starvation,” Dr Walcott said.
NovaMed has already been building partnerships to support the donation with support coming from organisations including The American Friends of Jamaica Inc. and the Kingston Hub of the Global Shapers Community.
The donated masks will be distributed locally to members of the public, civil institutions and select frontline personnel both directly and via the Council of Voluntary Social Services (CVSS).
A portion of the masks will also be shared with other Caribbean islands that have been hard hit by COVID-19.
NovaMed founders Kirk-Anthony Hamilton (left) and Dr David Walcott
“NovaMed was founded with the intention of being a resource for the Caribbean healthcare ecosystem, leveraging global partnerships and cutting-edge technologies to solve critical medical challenges. Through our network we have secured half a million masks to the benefit of Jamaica,” Hamilton said.
As the donation is meant to have impact across the region, 100,000 masks will be split across a number of at-risk territories.
NovaMed’s donation is meant to temporarily cushion local supply of masks from insecure global supply chains, as the Jamaican government fields preferential treatment for larger nations, as well as shipping delays and shortages caused by hoarding and market manipulation.
“Our hope is that we can even temporarily ease some of the government’s public burden for mask provision, allowing them to re-divert to frontline health workers and elsewhere.” Walcott said.
Globally masks have been encouraged as a crucial tool in the fight against COVID-19, though access to masks and other personal protective equipment have been limited by volatile global supply chains.
Commenting on the global procurement crisis, Hamilton said “Mega corporations are willing to pay triple the market price of masks to outbid their competitors. Within this context, less wealthy countries are not in a position to compete in the mad scramble for testing materials and face masks.”
According to Hamilton, The NovaMed team has been working closely with partners to provide global support through partnerships with the UN, WHO, and the World Economic Forum.
“Novamed is leveraging global resources to help solve local challenges and to create more opportunities on the ground. We are here to drive outcomes, and are laser-focused on executing in areas that need it most, throughout the region”