The Japanese government has donated medical equipment and supplies valued at approximately $260 million to support the country’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The items, which include mobile X-ray units, X-ray protective panels, ultrasound scanners, bedside monitors and defibrillators, will benefit hospitals across the parishes of Kingston, St. Andrew, Manchester, Clarendon, St. Ann and St. James.
The donation falls under Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme.The Governments signed the bilateral agreement to provide the grant aid last year.
Speaking at a virtual handover ceremony held at the Kingston Public Hospital on Tuesday (March 2), Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, expressed gratitude for the items.
She noted that the equipment and supplies will “significantly boost the Government’s efforts to provide quality healthcare to its citizens during and beyond COVID”.
She also applauded the Government of Japan’s pledge to contribute US$130 million to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) facility.
“This will undoubtedly help in securing access to vaccines by developing countries like Jamaica, ensuring that no nation is left behind,” she noted.
Senator Johnson Smith said that the pandemic has demonstrated the interconnectivity of the global community and that a path to normalcy and productivity can be forged through “strong partnerships, diplomacy and collective action”.
State Minister for Health and Wellness, Hon. Juliet Cuthbert Flynn, in her remarks, said that the healthcare teams “are more than delighted to receive this gift of medical equipment and supplies, which they will use in carrying out their duty of care to the Jamaican population”.
The State Minister noted that Japan’s contribution is happening at a time when hospitals are facing a sharp increase in admissions as the number of COVID-19 patients and infections rise.
Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica, His Excellency Masaya Fujiwara, for his part, said that medical cooperation and contributions continue to be a top priority for Japan.
He said that in order to overcome the pandemic, “multilateral cooperation schemes such as the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator are of critical importance”. ACT aims to speed up the development, production and ensure equitable access to new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
“As such, we will contribute US$130 million to the COVAX facility to support the provision of COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries, including Jamaica,” he pointed out.
The Ambassador said that the COVAX facility will play an important role in enabling Jamaica to inoculate as many nationals as possible.
He praised the country’s healthcare workers and officials of the Ministry of Health and Wellness for their “self-less” work in the fight against the pandemic.