THE US Government yesterday announced that it is providing approximately J$130 million to support Jamaica’s response to COVID-19.

The funding, provided under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), is aimed at mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s HIV-control efforts and will be provided to civil society and other implementing partners, the US Embassy in Kingston said.

“It will facilitate the procurement of instruments for genomic sequencing to identify COVID-19 variants, care and treatment in HIV clinical services, psychosocial support for vulnerable populations, and more,” the embassy said.

In March 2021, US President Joe Biden signed the ARPA into law, the embassy explained, adding that it will change the course of the pandemic and deliver immediate and direct relief to countries impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

“This law is one of the most progressive pieces of legislation in history and will build a bridge to an equitable economic recovery,” the embassy said.

It said that as part of the legislation, a significant amount of funding was made available to the Department of State to support programmes for the prevention, treatment, and control of HIV/AIDS in order to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the novel coronavirus, including to mitigate the impact on such programmes from COVID-19 and support recovery from the impacts of the virus.

The funding is being managed via the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The Caribbean Regional PEPFAR Programme has received a total of US$1 million to support activities in the region, of which US$875,000 ($130 million) will support programmes in Jamaica. This amount will facilitate infection prevention and control; COVID screening; genomic sequencing capability; mental health support for health-care workers; social services for vulnerable populations; enhanced digital platforms for appointments and e-learning; and more.

To date, the United States Government has provided nearly $750 million (US$5 million) in COVID-19 assistance to Jamaica.

Jamaica Observer