Over $6B budgeted for COVID-19 vaccination programme

Over $6.8 billion of the Ministry of Health’s $73.2 Billion budget has been earmarked to boost the Government’s immunisation programme this year.

This sum will also facilitate the procurement of an additional 260,000 doses of vaccines for booster shots for persons currently unvaccinated.

Currently, 60.3 per cent of the country’s adult population has been vaccinated while 82.1 per cent of the adult population receive the first dose of the covid vaccine.

Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Hon. Dr. Ashni Singh

Senior Minister in the Officeof the President withresponsibility for finance, Hon. DrAshni Singh told the National Assembly, on Wednesday, thatrecognising that the pandemic will continue to demand dedicated attention, in 2022, the COVID-19 response programme will continue to heavily rely on masking, physical distancing, ventilation and sanitising requirements, access to COVID-19 vaccines and care and treatment at the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH).”

In 2021, some $8.4 billion was utilised to address the pandemic.

As such, the Infectious Diseases Hospital expended over $750 million to facilitate its operation which saw over 2,500 patients receiving treatment. These services ranged from imaging, radiology, dialysis, surgical services, among others.

This year, Minister Singh said citizens are expected to benefit from the operationalisation of a maternal delivery room, oxygen plant and physiotherapy department at the health facility.

However, he stressed that the pandemic continues to put a strain on the availability of human resources in the health sector especially in the areas of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and malaria.

The senior finance minister said, “on that note, in 2022, we will continue the transition to new anti-retroviral medications which are more effective in suppressing the viral loads in persons living with HIV.”

A citizen getting vaccinated

As it relates to malaria, the sector saw reduced testing for 2021 with over 55,000 long-lasting insecticidal bed nets being distributed. In the first half of this year, the health ministry intends to distribute over 16,000 nets countrywide.

To this end, $142.4 million has been budgeted to procure over 112,000 nets to prepare for the next distribution cycle in 2023. It is slated to protect over 158,000 persons.

While the tuberculosis (TB) management was also affected due to the pandemic, the government was able to open a chest clinic at the Port Mourant Hospital in 2021, to provide testing, treatment and follow-up services.

This year, more testing will be done through a collaboration with the Prison Service, and intensify the directly observed treatment short course (DOTS) programme for TB control.

The 2022 National Budget was presented under the theme, “Steadfast against all challenges, Resolute in building our One Guyana.”