US Gov’t has provided US$12m towards Jamaica’s COVID-19 response | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News

Over 1,000 residents of vulnerable communities have benefited from the United States (US) Government’s provision of US$12 million towards Jamaica’s national coronavirus (COVID-19) response since the onset of the pandemic.

Speaking at a media roundtable briefing that was hosted by the US Embassy at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday, Acting United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Country Representative in Jamaica, Alex Gainer, said allocations were earmarked for non-health COVID-19 assistance to the residents.

He said these included vouchers to acquire basic items, such as food and personal care products.

“We have also provided vulnerable youth from these communities with about 2,000 tablets and laptops so that they could continue (their education digitally in the absence of face-to-face learning),” said Gainer.

The briefing was used to outline engagements that are being spearheaded by stakeholder entities from the embassy in Kingston.

USAID, which is one of the key entities, has so far provided the lion’s share of US$7.5 million of the US$12 million, with another US$2 million coming from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Caribbean Regional Office.

Gainer said the funds which are in addition to vaccines being provided, have also been channelled to other key areas of focus.

These include assisting with the establishment and equipping of the COVID-19 Emergency Operations Centre (EOC); providing protective equipment for approximately 1,000 healthcare workers; and delivering critical supplies, including 25 intensive care unit (ICU) beds, among other provisions.

Additionally, Gainer said the USAID has contributed to the development of a risk communication programme that was designed to ensure Jamaicans have accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines, and how to remain healthy during the pandemic.

“We are also going to be moving further, as the vaccine rollout continues, to support the (Jamaican) Government’s efforts to make sure that there is (credible and accurate) information (regarding) access and logistical support for vaccines in Jamaica,” Gainer indicated.

Dr Varough Deyde, Director of the CDC Caribbean Regional Office, said the CDC’s provision was used to procure ambulances and other vehicles for the EOC, and to strengthen data systems.

In addition, he said CDC staff provided COVID-19 contact tracing and case management, and infection prevention and control support.

“Beyond these activities with the Government, we also have very strong ongoing technical collaboration with the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), where we are (partnering) on research to look at the characteristics and outcomes of COVID-19 infection among children and adults,” Deyde further indicated.