By Kathryn Campbell
NASSAU, The Bahamas – On behalf of The Government of The Bahamas, the Hon. Renward Wells Minister of Health, accepted the sixth batch of medical supplies worth $78,000 — a gift of the Chinese Government.
What is described as the “biggest and highest value” batch of medical supplies delivered by the People’s Republic of China to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas was handed over by Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas, Her Excellency Dai Qingli, during a brief ceremony today at the Ministry of Health (MOH), Meeting Street.
Senior executives including Acting Permanent Secretary Siobhan Deane of the MOH and officials of the Chinese Embassy witnessed the presentation.
The items comprise 10,000 Tuberculin syringes, 3,000 sets of coveralls of various sizes, 10,000 pairs of Nitrile gloves, 30,000 N95 facemasks, and 100,000 medical facemasks.
Minister Wells underscored that the donation is “most timely” and assured that the items will go a “very, very, very long way” especially during the “challenging” period that the nation is presently experiencing.
“Your country has been most gracious and generous to have given The Bahamas such a needed supply at our most vulnerable time and we are most appreciative and grateful for the kind and thoughtful gesture,” said Minister Wells.
He remarked that The Bahamas has benefitted greatly from the economic cooperation, trade, investment, cultural exchanges and bilateral support from The People’s Republic of China to The Bahamas.
“Your visit comes at a time when we are experiencing some new emerging challenges and threats brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“On Sunday, 25 July, 2021, we experienced the most cases of COVID-19 in The Bahamas, some 133 cases in a single day. Moreover, as a Small Island Developing State, such surges in cases are a real challenge to a country like The Bahamas.
“Currently, The Bahamas is experiencing its third wave of COVID-19 infections. What is noteworthy about this period is that hospitalizations have increased exponentially. Due to COVID-19 exposures on six wards of our public hospital, bed spaces were closed to new admissions. The bed capacity was reduced by 96 so that only 32 beds were being used for COVID-19 patients. As a result, Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) has had to establish strict measures to deal with the increasing COVID-19 cases.
“Our nurses, doctors, emergency medical services and other essential health care workers continue to work hard. Currently, many of our nurses, however, especially those who are trained to treat COVID-19 patients have migrated to countries that can provide them with higher compensation rates.
“With assistance from the Pan American Health Organization, we received the results of samples that were genetically sequenced from the Fiocruz Laboratory in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We were recently able to confirm the presence of the UK and Iota variants in the country. This causes further concern from the Government.”
Moreover, Minister Wells said during this period The Bahamas has also seen an increased number of deaths, which has resulted in space challenges at the morgue.
He informed of the continued challenge of vaccine hesitancy in the general populace and that health care workers are not inclined to take the vaccine. He urged citizens and residents to become vaccinated.
Minister Wells said Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis will guide the nation further through the COVID-19 pandemic in a national address later today.
In response, Ambassador Dai said although both countries cannot be more different in size, population and national conditions, they have forged a “sincere” friendship over the years. She said the supplies are a “solid” demonstration of this friendship.
“The pandemic is a common enemy for all humanity. Faced with its ferocious assault, our two countries have shown each other solidarity and mutual assistance. The supplies have hopefully arrived at a timely moment.
“Affected by the global rise in cases due to the Delta variant, The Bahamas is also seeing an uptick in infections and the frontline medical workers are facing growing pressure. We know how this feels as we went through this difficult phase.
“Like their counterparts around the world, the heroism and sacrifice of frontline medical workers in The Bahamas are truly admirable and reflect the best of this nation.”
Ambassador Dai pledged her country’s continued support and wished The Bahamas all the best in the fight of the pandemic and resumption of economic growth. (BIS Photos/Kristaan Ingraham)