JIS 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.

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 include 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],” Mr. Gainer told journalists.

He was speaking at a media round-table briefing hosted by the US Embassy at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, on Tuesday (November 16).

The briefing was used to outline engagements being spearheaded by stakeholder entities based at 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.

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

These include assisting with 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, Mr. Gainer said the USAID has contributed to the development of a risk communication programme, 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 Government’s efforts to make sure that there is [credible, accurate] information [regarding] access and logistical support for vaccines in Jamaica,” Mr. Gainer indicated.

Dr. Deyde said the CDC’s provision was used to procure ambulances and other vehicles for EOC and 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, where we are [partnering] on research to look at the characteristics and outcomes of COVID-19 infection among children and adults,” Dr. Deyde further indicated.

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