MoH requests $1.9B supplementary funding to purchase COVID-19 vaccines

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Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony

The Health Ministry has asked the National Assembly for a supplementary provision to the tune of $1.9 billion, to be directed for the purchasing of COVID-19 vaccines.

The sum of 1.2 billion was requested to facilitate payment for vaccines, supplies and the immunisation campaign; as part of efforts from the Ministry’s end to mitigate a further spread. Another $619 million is for additional resources to purchase vaccines.

In his presentation to the House, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony explained that Government has already explored several avenues to acquire vaccines, in which over 465,000 doses were sent to Guyana.

“We have utilised several options to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines. This includes bilateral donations from countries such as Barbados, India and China and also includes multilateral arrangement such as COVAX. We have also successfully concluded several purchase agreements with suppliers such as the European Union, United Arab Emirates and Sinopharm. We have already received 465,890 doses through these varied arrangements.”

  1. Government recently brokered a purchase agreement for 200,000 Sinopharm doses, expected to arrive in the country in the coming months. Sputnik V doses are also arriving in batches from a State purchase and will continue until 800,000 doses arrive. With enough vaccines in the system, he expressed that vaccine hesitancy is the biggest challenge to overcome.

“Our main challenge is vaccine hesitancy, which is often driven by careless and irresponsible thought. I urge every one of us to be a little more mindful and cautious about the potential harm we can unintentionally inflict when we unwittingly share misinformation about vaccines. Let’s change vaccine hesitancy to vaccine enthusiasm,” the Minister noted.

Over 210,000 persons in Guyana have taken their first dose of the vaccine, with more than 16 per cent being completely immunised. This, Dr Anthony said, is a “glimmer of hope on the horizon”.

“It is pleasing to note that for those that have been fully vaccinated, meaning that they would have gotten both doses of the vaccines, that we have not had a single case of hospitalisation from those persons nor have we seen a single death,” he told the National Assembly.

Supplementary funds were also requested for the upgrade of health facilities and for the procurement of medical supplies. He said some degree of progress has been made to improve the sector from what was inherited.

“We have made much progress since the PPP/C came to office. I recall what we inherited. Virtually every medicine and every medical supply item was in short supply. Many of the more than 1000 medicines in the infirmary were almost zero supplied. This was compounded by the use stock of expired items that cost the taxpayers billions of dollars.”

Just Monday, 100,000 first doses of the Sputnik V vaccine arrived at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport – the fifth batch that has so far accumulated to 305,537 jabs from a State purchase. Dr Anthony had explained that the delay for second doses will end by next week, as another consignment is on track for arrival. [This article was first published in the Guyana Times]