Government allocates $53.5B for public health sector
− $750M for roll out of COVID-19 vaccines
Some $53.5 billion has been allocated for the public health sector in Budget 2021 as the Government takes steps to transform it to world-class status while accounting for the Covid pandemic.
Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh presented the $383.1 billion budget to the National Assembly on Friday.
“Government has made a provision of over $750 million to support the rolling out of COVID-19 vaccines from February and for the rest of the year, in a phased approach, the first of which will cater to our frontline workers, the elderly, and persons living with comorbidities,” Dr. Singh said.
And as the Government starts to expand diagnostic and speciality capacities across the country, $1.8 billion has been provided for the purchasing of critical medical equipment, while $99.8 million has been budgeted for re-equipping the ophthalmology hospital in Port Mourant.
“With regard to HIV, we will intensify our partnerships with civil society organisations to encourage expanded testing and continued care, to ensure that persons living with the virus are able to remain on their anti-retroviral treatment thereby curbing transmission; for related treatment and testing Government has made a provision of $900 million,” the Minister disclosed.
Dr. Singh also announced that Government intends to expend $322 million to purchase medical equipment, including ventilators and anaesthesia machines, which he said will serve to expand the diagnosis and treatment capacity of the national referral hospital, the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation.
The emergency medical services will also be boosted with an additional $35 million to strengthen its capacity, while a holistic plan to introduce an ambulance authority is being formulated.
Dr. Singh said President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali’s vision of transforming the healthcare system into one that is world-class will drive Government’s actions over the next five years.
Some $2.8 billion has been allocated for the modernisation and expansion of physical infrastructure. This will cover the continued implementation of the $860 million SMART Hospital initiative. It includes the operationalisation 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.
Budget 2021 was presented under the theme ‘A Path to Recovery, Economic Dynamism and Resilience’.