Gov’t gets COVID-19 donations worth $600 million

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THE Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) is reporting that it received over $600,000,000 in donations between March 1 and May 31 to support the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The information was disclosed following a Jamaica Observer Access to Information Act request for the monetary donations received by the ministry during that period; the donors and the amount donated; the areas of the ministry in which the funds were allocated; and a breakdown of the spending.

The ministry said it received donations amounting to $608,894,606; 48 per cent or $293.2 million of which was for medical equipment, 28 per cent or $172.2 million for goods, while 13 per cent or $78 million amounted to cash donations.

Food and beverages totalled $22.2 million in donations, services $12 million and transportation $31.2 million.

The report, produced by the Health for Life and Wellness Foundation Limited, said 52 private sector entities donated $284.5 million in cash and kind, while 11 non-profit organisations donated $243.3 million.

Foreign companies donated $52.2 million, the diaspora $202,500, the telethon hosted by the Government $27.1 million, while individual donations amounted to $1.5 million to make up the total amount.

Head of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Keith Duncan noted that its members quickly responded to the onset of COVID-19 by assessing the challenges and identifying gaps.

He said four areas were immediately identified to include the health sector; the vulnerable in society that would be impacted by the fallout in the economy; the challenges of operating businesses safely in a COVID-19 environment, while protecting the workers and customers; and the impact on the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector, which would be the most vulnerable.

“For the health sector, early in the pandemic we identified that ventilators were in short supply in Jamaican hospitals and the PSOJ responded by raising $150 million from members for this cause.

“For our vulnerable population, we identified food security and health services as requirements, especially for our population of over 65, who could be exacerbated by underlying conditions. The PSOJ, along with public sector and civil society, initiated the PSOJ COVID-19 Response Fund to raise money to address these two areas. More than $190 million was raised and we targeted 25 of our most vulnerable communities across Jamaica, and from April [through to] August we have delivered over 64,000 care packages and have in partnership with the MOHW and the Diabetes Association of Jamaica have run clinics in some of these vulnerable communities,” Duncan told the Observer.

He said in order to help the business community operate safely in the pandemic, the PSOJ team developed protocols for businesses to minimise the risk of the spread of the virus in the business environment.

Additionally, he said the PSOJ, in addressing the uncertainties faced by the MSME sector, rolled off a series of weekly podcasts called COVID-Cast to share strategies on how to pivot their businesses to take advantage of opportunities and survive the pandemic.

In the meantime, a further breakdown of the donations showed that of the $78 million the MOWH received in cash, it kept $30.5 million, while $47.5 million was handed over to the National Health Fund (NHF).

Of the $22.2 million it received in food and beverage donations, it said $1.3 million was allocated to the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA); $990,000 to the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA); $400,000 to the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA); $8.4 million to the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA); $50,000 to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI); $50,000 to Kingston Public Hospital (KPH); $5.7 million to the National Emergency Operations Centre (ECO); $2.7 million to MOHW; and $2.5 million to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS).

The report said that the NHF received the bulk of the medical equipment donated, totalling $215 million. At the same time, WRHA benefited from equipment totalling $45.7 million; SRHA $810,000; NERHA $2.4 million; UWHI $25.2 million; KPH $160,000; and MOHW $3.7 million.

The MOHW was the sole beneficiary of services rendered, valuing $12 million.

Of the $31.2 million in transportation donation, SERHA benefited to the tune of $18 million; WRHA $8 million; NERHA $3.6 million and SRHA $1.6 million.

The WRHA, the report said, received 97 per cent or $167.3 million worth of the goods donated, while SERHA received 0.9 per cent or $1.5 million; MOHW 0.8 per cent or $1.4 million; SRHA 0.5 per cent or $834,000; NERHA 0.5 per cent or $834,000; and the EOC 0.2 per cent or $302,000.

The NHF was the biggest beneficiary of the $608-million donation, accounting for 41.3 per cent, followed by WRHA with 36.5 per cent; MOHW with 8.3 per cent; SERHA with 4.6 per cent; and UHWI with 4.2 per cent.

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