Barbados’ efforts to fight the deadly COVID-19 pandemic received a needed boost on Wednesday, when officials were presented with a major monetary donation and several military grade computers from two separate organisations.
The Barbados Co-operative & Credit Union League Ltd. (BCCULL) donated $89,000 to the National Vaccination Fund, while the Massy Foundation in association with the Massy Group of companies in Barbados provided 27 purpose-built Dell laptop computers for use in the national vaccination programme.
Both presentations took place at the Masonic Centre in Salters, St George.
Presenting the cheque to Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn on behalf of the credit union movement, President of the BCCULL Hally Haynes said he was pleased with efforts by authorities to limit the spread of the virus.
He said, however, the credit union movement recognised there was still a lot of work to be done to lower the numbers even further and get more residents vaccinated against the life-threatening virus.
“We in the credit union movement in Barbados recognise that the tentacles of this pandemic have not remained in the health sector. The coronavirus has upended our economy and undermined almost every attempt at jumpstarting economic growth. It has been the precipitator of widespread unemployment, as our main foreign exchange earner – the tourism sector, is threatened by every wave of the disease,” said Haynes.
He pointed out that credit unions have been playing their part by offering holidays on loan payments, lengthening payment periods, restructuring loans among the creative ways to help cushion the effects of the pandemic on members.
“We fully appreciate the need to keep the Barbados economy going, to avoid further disabling lockdowns while at the same time, keeping our communities and members safe,” said Haynes.
“It is for these reasons, and in line with Government’s national strategic effort to achieve herd immunity and promote economic stability during the pandemic, that we are pleased to make this presentation on behalf of the credit union movement today to the National Vaccination Fund,” he said.
Minister Straughn said that to date the fund has raised some $10.8 million, $7.3 million of which has been transferred to the Consolidation Fund to date to help with COVID-19 measures.
He thanked the movement for its help at the individual and national level, hinting that government was prepared to put measures in place to ensure that the movement did not suffer any major loss as a result of the moratorium.
“We will continue to monitor those arrangements to ensure that whatever regulatory arrangements are to be made we make the provisions for that, to allow for persons to see their way through so that once the economy recovers there is a credible plan to be able to ensure that any loans that are extended can be repaid,” said Straughn.
Meanwhile, in making his presentation of the 27 computers to Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, Chairman of the Massy Foundation (Barbados) Inc. Everton Browne disclosed that the machines were purpose-built at a cost of about $155,000.
The Dell laptops will be used to run specialised software in the various phases of the COVID-19 immunization administration, distribution and overall logistics process.
“The computers . . . will significantly improve the coordination and efficiency at all vaccination centres across the island including the mobile unit. They will also be used in the issuing of the digital certificates to fully vaccinated persons,” said Browne.
Beyond their use in the immunisation programme, the laptops will become part of the assets of the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) for use in the Field Medical Facility in the event of any future humanitarian or disaster relief deployment project locally and regionally.
Thanking the company for the donation, Bostic said it was a “timely intervention” that would play a significant role in the facilitation of the national immunisation programme.
“They are being presented at a time when we are seeking to improve the numbers of persons who are fully vaccinated or partially vaccinated in this country. They come at a time when we are about to see greater numbers [of people] arriving and departing the Grantley Adams International Airport, including Barbadians and residents of Barbados,” said Bostic.
He was not immediately able to say how many residents were awaiting their vaccination certificates, but stressed that with the computers, officials will be able to issue vaccination certificates to individuals immediately after they are vaccinated. (MM)