Government announces $302 million boost to medical funding for COVID-19 response

Minister of Health Chris Hipkins announced the money on Tuesday.
Minister of Health Chris Hipkins announced the money on Tuesday. Photo credit: Newshub/Getty

The Government has boosted its medical funding by a massive $302 million in response to the ongoing COVID-19 response.

Minister of Health Chris Hipkins announced the funding on Tuesday, saying it's evident the world will continue to live with COVID-19 for quite some time.

"It's important we continue to invest in our health services and build our capacity to respond to the virus."

Of the $302 million, $150 million will be invested in PHARMAC over two years to make sure New Zealand has access to medications and medical equipment needed to fight the virus.

"The cost of medicines has increased due to supply issues caused by the global pandemic," said Hipkins.

PHARMAC has secured additional stock of medications needed to treat patients in intensive care - such as Fentanyl and propofol-  but it cost 70 percent more than it did pre-COVID.

As coronavirus continues to spread overseas, Hipkins says the funding will ensure New Zealand is set to battle any increase in cases.

"With the virus now spreading faster than ever it's clear that disruption to supply chains will continue and more investment is needed," said Hipkins. 

Alongside this money, $30 million will go to investing in the National Close Contact Service, and $35 million will be spent buying and installing more ventilators.

There will also be $50 million more to secure personal protective equipment.

Hipkins says while there is no doubt New Zealand has done incredibly well in it's response to the virus, people cannot afford to take anything for granted.

"All these investments are designed to further build our ability to respond to the global pandemic now and into the future. New Zealand's health response to COVID-19 has been world-leading we intend to keep it that way," Hipkins said.