Health budget will fix challenges, heighten COVID-19 preparation – Dr Anthony
Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony on Monday welcomed the allocation that was set aside from the 2021 budget for the sector, noting that it will be used to alleviate some of the challenges currently faced.
Speaking during the COVID-19 update, it was highlighted that needed supplies and equipment will be sourced with the $53.5 billion that will be injected into the sector this year. The health minister expressed that they are “extremely pleased” with this sum.
“As it relates to health, we are extremely pleased that we have been given such a generous allocation because what this allows us to do is fix some of the problems and challenges that we have in the sector, things like shortages of medicines, trying to get equipment for health centers and district hospitals and so forth.”
He added, “These are ongoing issues that we have and with this amount of money, we will be able to rectify some of these problems. It’s not going to solve everything but will certainly go a long way in fixing the problems that we currently have in the sector. We are extremely pleased with the allocation.”
The entire allotment is divided into $1.8B for purchasing of critical medical equipment, $322 million for the procurement of medical equipment, $35 million to enhance the emergency medical services, $900 million for HIV treatment and testing, $70 million for essential medication for psychiatric patients among others.
In terms of infrastructure, $2.8B has been budgeted for the expansion and modernization of health infrastructure. Within this, the continued implementation of the $860 million SMART Hospital initiative will result in operationalization of the upgraded Leonora Hospital, and the commissioning of the upgraded Diamond Diagnostic Centre and Mabaruma Hospital in 2021, while works will advance on the Lethem and Paramakatoi Hospitals.
Government will also endeavour to complete the construction of a polyclinic at Festival City and the remodeling of the Skeldon Hospital at a combined cost of $88.3 million to now cater for surgical interventions including an operating room, recovery room and an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Other areas that will benefit in capital investments focused on providing surgical interventions are Aishalton and Kumaka District Hospitals, with over $100 million earmarked for these projects. Moreover, some $140 million has been set aside for financing of maternal waiting homes and facilities at Moruca, Enmore, and Kato; and another $100 million for the construction and retrofitting of the maternity ward and wing at the New Amsterdam Hospital.
For 2021, Government has made a provision of over $750 million to support the rolling out of COVID-19 vaccines from February. The Minister said additional resources will be pumped into the procurement of equipment for the Infectious Diseases Hospital at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.
“In terms of equipment, the things that you really need in this instance to deal with COVID-19 would be things like ventilators and monitors and so forth. We have an ICU at the Liliendaal facility where we have about 25 beds. We have a number of ventilators there and we want to secure some more monitors. With the allocation that we have, we will be able to get additional monitors to be utilized by patients who come there,” he revealed. (G12)