The United States of America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) have partnered to bolster Jamaica’s health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a handover ceremony on Thursday, October 7, 2021, Mr. Ian Stein, PAHO/WHO Representative to Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands and Mr. John McIntyre, Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of the United States of America in Jamaica, delivered emergency response equipment and supplies, valued at J$32,556,540 to the Hon. Juliet Cuthbert Flynn, State Minister in the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW).
The donation, which is the first in a series, is part of a U.S. $1,000,000 (J$147,344,000) CDC grant to strengthen the response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Jamaica. The MOHW today received a 16-seater Minibus for the transportation of the rapid response and contact tracing teams to support COVID-19 containment measures. Donated sampling and laboratory supplies included: 80 GeneXpert kits to test SARS-CoV-2; 7,500 bottles of Universal Transport Medium and 15,000 swabs for sampling; 39,700 nitrile gloves for infection prevention and control. Communication equipment for contact tracers included: 6 satellite phones; 30 Very High Frequency (VHF) radios; 70 cellular phones and 10 laptops.
In his address at the handover ceremony, Mr. Stein, highlighted the importance of national and international collaboration to support the COVID-19 response and save the lives of Jamaicans. He said, “The pervasive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of collaboration on multiple levels to support national health responses. In this instance, the collaboration between the CDC and PAHO to procure lifesaving equipment to support the work of the Ministry of Health and Wellness will redound to improved management of the pandemic response”.
Mr. Stein continued, “Our work is guided by the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, and the Health Emergency and Disaster Management Framework; we are therefore pleased to continue their implementation through collaboration with our international partners.”
In his remarks, the U.S. Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires, lauded the joint efforts of the CDC and PAHO. He asserted “on behalf of the United States Government we are pleased to join the Jamaican Government in combatting and containing the spread of COVID-19. Today’s equipment and supplies handover forms part of approximately US$12 million (J$1.7 billion) in U.S. Government support towards Jamaica’s efforts.”
Mr. McIntyre further stated that “the U.S. government has invested over J$1 billion dollars to help combat COVID-19, through a whole-of-government effort focused on preparedness, response, direct foreign assistance and investments, in other words we’re-in-it-to-win-it, in the fight against COVID-19.”
While accepting the donation on behalf of the Government of Jamaica, Hon. Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, Minister of State, Ministry of Health & Wellness said, “This sort of collaborative effort from the CDC and PAHO/WHO is an example of the kind we need to see to work together to get through these challenging times. These acts, such as those demonstrated today, tell our nation that our international partners care. If there’s one thing we can all agree on–this pandemic has taught us that we need support; we need each other.”
In Jamaica, the U.S. Embassy has contributed to the national emergency operation center, ICU beds, ambulances, buses, diagnostic and other medical supplies and equipment, other infection prevention and sanitation supplies, critical nutrition supplements for vulnerable populations, behavior change communication and community engagement, expanded space to care for patients via a mobile field hospital, consultants, and research.