21 Jul 2020

Pharmac, Covid-19 health response get slice of $302m fund

1:25 pm on 21 July 2020

Minister of Health Chris Hipkins has announced a financial boost for public health services, setting aside more than $300 million.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

"The world is going to be living with the ongoing impacts of the Covid-19 global pandemic for some time," Hipkins said.

"This government has significantly boosted funding for Pharmac to purchase medicines. In the last year alone we have announced an extra $220m investment, as well as a one-off boost of $35m in response to Covid-19."

He said medicines had become expensive since the pandemic broke.

Securing medicines like propofol, fentanyl and noradrenaline for treatment of patients in intensive care now cost about 70 percent more than would have been expected prior to the pandemic.

"That's why the government has approved $74m more for Pharmac this year, and $76m in 2021/22, out of the Covid Response and Recovery Fund.

"This will mean Pharmac can continue to purchase the medicines and medical devices New Zealanders need."

Watch the announcement and Covid-19 cases update here:

Contact tracing efforts get $30m.

"A further $23m will be used to develop a National Immunisation Solution, so that when a Covid-19 vaccine is developed we are ready to roll out a mass vaccination programme. This builds on an earlier investment of $15m.

"We can't afford to wait for a vaccine to be available - we need to start work now to replace the current national immunisation register, which simply could not cope with the scale and complexity of a mass Covid-19 vaccination campaign."

Another $35m will go to upgrade hospital infrastructure to support the use of ventilators in the event of an outbreak.

Investments worth $302.6m announced today include:

  • $150m for medicines and medical devices through PHARMAC
  • $50m for PPE
  • $35m for oxygen supply ($25m of which is capital, with $10m operational funding)
  • $30m for the National Close Contact Service
  • $14.6m for telehealth services
  • $23m to develop the National Immunisation Solution ($14m of operational funding and $9m capital)

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