Budget 2022 will prepare for continued COVID-19 vaccination, diagnostics – Health Minister

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has said that preparation to combat and prevent COVID-19 from spiralling out of control in the new year are high on the agenda, and resources would be allotted in Budget 2022 to support such efforts.
Speaking during Thursday’s COVID-19 update, the Minister said procurement of additional vaccines would be a priority, as would be resources to store, transport and administer the shots. In addition, testing materials would need to be procured.
“Going forward in 2022, we still have to prepare for COVID. We would have to make allocations to continue our vaccination programme. This would include both the procurement of vaccines and the rollout of the programme to different parts of the country, so we’ll have to budget adequate resources to do so. In addition to that, transporting the vaccines from Point A to Point B require cold chain [storage]. If that cold chain is broken, then the vaccines would not be viable,” Dr Anthony has explained.

Health Minister
Dr Frank Anthony

He added, “I expect in next year’s budget we’ll have adequate amount of money for both doing the diagnostics for COVID, if people get sick, to provide proper care for them; and, of course, in terms of prevention, to be able to do vaccination and other measures that are necessary.”
Two Thursdays ago, the National Assembly approved the Supplementary Appropriation Bill which comprised Financial Paper No. 3 and Financial Paper No. 4 of 2021. The Bill, amounting to over $26 billion, comprised Financial Paper No 3 of 2021, totalling $5.1 billion, which caters for Contingency Fund advances for July 22 to December 9, 2021.
Allocations catered for in the Bill include medical supplies to continuously address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Other support measures to address the pandemic include continuous provision of medical supplies for health workers; supply of increased oxygen and ventilators for the hospital at Liliendaal; and cleaning and sanitising supplies for all Regions to combat the virus and its variants.
Dr Anthony has said it is important to have enough test kits and secondary materials for detection of the virus as the new Omicron variant spreads across countries.
He shared, “The supplementary money that we have asked for is really to help us do things like PCR testing. With omicron looming, one of the things is that you need to know how many persons are positive. We wouldn’t be able to differentiate what variant they have, but, certainly, we’ll know whether they have COVID or not. We need to buy more PCR test kits, and part of the money will go to get the test kits, reagents, and the other things we need (in order) to do testing.”
He pointed out that the oxygen supply is also needed to care for patients that contract a severe form of the virus and are under intensive care.
“Oxygen is a very costly thing in this country, and therefore if we’re going to adequately provide oxygen for our patients, then we have to pay for it…There are some monies for the types of medications that we’re using, and so that too has been provided in the supplementary.” (G12)